Letter: Stack defends current Kelowna council

Others before her laid the groundwork for these housing first projects to be built in the first place.

To the editor:

Re: Former mayor critical of city hall apathy, March 11 Kelowna Capital News

Sharon Shepherd recently wrote a letter to the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce “that the city had a number of programs aimed at helping the homeless in place during her time in office, using a housing first approach at that time and was successful in getting funding from higher levels of government for four different types of social housing, including Cardington Apartments on St. Paul Street in downtown Kelowna, Willowbridge which is operated by the Canadian mental Health Association, the NOW apartment building in south Pandosy and Rutland’s Newgate apartments run by the john Howard Society.”

She went on to say that since her terms in office, the city has essentially dropped the ball and she says she hopes that the work done in the past won’t be forgotten.

Sadly, the former mayor seems to have forgotten a few things herself. The work of securing the funding for the four projects she mentioned above was secured, not by Sharon Shepherd, but rather by former Mayor Walter Gray during his term in office. He is the one that took a bold step and responded to a challenge by then-premier Gordon Campbell to get serious about addressing the ongoing problem of homelessness.

Then-premier Campbell challenged B.C. mayors to provide pre-zoned land at no cost and the province would then bring funds to build and operate new housing-first projects.

Many mayors did not take the challenge but Mayor Gray and the City of Kelowna did. The city dedicated four sites and struck a deal with the province to attract approximately $30 million in investment into Kelowna to help address homelessness.

It was shortly after this he was defeated by Sharon Shepherd and she had the good fortune to be mayor while these four projects were being built. The heavy lifting had already been done. All Sharon and her council had to do was to stay the course.

These projects continue to house people in need today.

I am not saying Sharon did not play a role in addressing the problem—she did; but others before her laid the groundwork for these housing first projects to be built in the first place. This is how city council works – each council builds on the work of earlier councils. The current council is no different.

It was also under Walter Gray’s leadership (Sharon Shepherd was a council member at that time) that the City Housing Opportunities Fund was established at City Hall to encourage new affordable housing projects. These local funds have been used to promote many new affordable housing projects throughout the city. Funds have been used for projects including the New Ki-Low-Na project with 86 new units under construction at Central Green. The city invested $1 million in land toward this project. Housing Opportunities funds were also used for the Pleasantvale redevelopment, creating much needed renewal for 50 affordable senior housing units in the north end.

The Okanagan Metis and Aboriginal Housing Society is also finalizing plans to add 78 new homes near Highway 33 in Rutland.

In November of 2015 council approved new rental housing grants to promote six purpose-built housing projects. These include

non-profit housing and market housing. Some of these are targeted at expanding much needed student housing. Each of these housing projects are important.

The city has been, and continues to be, an excellent partner working closely with BC Housing to attract provincial funding for much needed city housing projects. City staff, under the direction of city manager Ron Mattiussi, have been building this strong relationship for the last 10 years.

Expanding this partnership with BC Housing and the Province has been very productive and helps our city address this ongoing housing challenge. From my observations, the best results are achieved when BC Housing, the city and local agencies work cooperatively to secure the necessary resources to build and operate the facilities our city needs.

As always, the work continues—there remains much to be done.

Luke Stack,

Kelowna city councillor,

Society of Hope executive director,

Kelowna

 

Just Posted

West Kelowna fire under control

A fire broke out just above Bear Creek Provincial Park Monday

Kelowna Boat Show highlights abandoned boat program

The 24th annual Kelowna Boat Show hits shores April 27 and 28.

Kelowna’s Korczak, Canada en route to U18 quarter-finals

Kaedan Korczak and Team Canada play Latvia Thursday

‘Cutthroat’ sport of wine tasting happening now in the Okanagan

BC Tasting Games are underway with competitions in three Okanagan communities.

Kelowna pimp faces 4 year sentence

In court the details of how Simon Rypiak lured 4 women into prostitution revealed

VIDEO: Okanagan fire victim Amy Hansen speaks out on the loss of her four pets

A gofundme page has been started for Hansen, with $1,140 raised of a $5000 goal to help her rebuild

SPCA investigating hen cull at Shuswap egg farm

Egg farm regulator says they are confident cull at was done properly

Okanagan Rail Trail a popular place

Thousands pack North Okanagan section over long weekend

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

Organ donation push on as Okanagan officer fights for life

Those interested in becoming an donor should visit taketwominutes.ca to sign up

VIDEO: Fish farming company launches $30-million vessel to treat salmon for sea lice in B.C. waters

Freshwater treatment an improvement but fish farms should be removed from sea, says conservationist

Most Read