Letter: Supporting tourism operators or homeless?

Letter: Supporting tourism operators or homeless?

Kelowna letter writer proposes a unique solution to the homelessness problem

To the editor:

A solution to homelessness in Kelowna exists but is being ignored.

The City of Kelowna could implement a three per cent hotel room tax to raise $3 million annually to build and operate housing units for homeless residents in waterfront parks. The tax revenues would house, feed, educate and provide health care services and job training to unit residents. Buildings could have retail space to provide travel information, souvenirs and sunblock to tourists using the park to help offset building operating costs and enable the homeless to get a leg up in this world.

The city could use their considerable powers to make this happen with land use and zoning changes; nominal $50 leases for 30 years; and property tax exemptions. This important public land use is justified since homelessness creates no parking issues, has a negative impact on tourism, has huge public costs, parkland is under-utilized most of the year and, is revenue neutral to city taxpayers.

Helping the poor to help themselves is a very noble cause for both council and Tourism Kelowna to support. Tourism is a billion-dollar contributor to the Central Okanagan economy and an industry that continues to grow at a steady rate. With over 1.9 million visitors to Kelowna annually, the tourism industry contributes over $1.25 billion in total economic output. These benefits can and should be used to offset rising social costs created by both tourist growth, population growth and a speculative condo market.

Sound foolish or over the top? Not at all. This solution is basically the same one the City of Kelowna offered Tourism Kelowna to find a home for its Visitor Centre by relocating it to a downtown public waterfront park. There is no difference between helping the homeless with food, shelter and other issues to get ahead than there is in helping tourism operators get ahead. It is simply a matter of choosing which group to help.

This is an election year that could solve homeless issues. The City of Kelowna should give it’s 300 homeless residents the same opportunities and priorities it gave Tourism Kelowna’s 350 members. After all, what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander.

Sincerely,

Richard Drinnan, Kelowna

Just Posted

(Dave Ogilvie/Contributed)
UPDATE: West Kelowna fire crews rescue injured mountain biker

The injury took place at the top of Smith Creek Road

Kelowna flags were flown at half-mast after the discovery of a residential school burial site in Kamloops. (File photo)
Central Okanagan school board chair reflects on recent tragedies

Moyra Baxter offers condolenses to residential school victims, slain Muslim family

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bit by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck out

Kierra Smith (Contributed)
Kelowna swimmer headed to Toronto hoping to qualify for Olympics

If she qualifies, it will be Kierra Smith’s second time swimming at the Olympics

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Most Read