Kelowna officials choose two parks for temporary homeless camping, dismantle tent city

Two parks have been established for people who need outdoor overnight shelter to set up their tents

Kelowna’s tent city is on the move to two parks selected by the city after living conditions were deemed too hazardous following inspections by the Kelowna Fire Department.

The two parks will serve as temporary spaces for people experiencing homelessness to set up their tents between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m., and include washrooms, garbage disposal, sharps disposal, bottled water and daytime storage.

“Our primary concern with the current use of tents for overnight sheltering on Leon is safety-related,” said Kelowna fire chief Travis Whiting.

“Specifically, the close grouping of the tents due to the rapid and surprising growth of people sheltering outside and highly combustible materials, and the observed use of unsafe heaters creating fire or carbon monoxide risk to the residents.”

There will be strict rules for those who will be permitted to set up shelter, starting with set up at 7 p.m. and requiring them to remove their shelters by 9 a.m. the next morning, unlike on Leon Avenue where sheltering was allowed 24-7. To make the transition easier, people were allowed to set-up tents after 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

READ MORE: $12 million needed to beef up Kelowna RCMP: report

READ MORE: Kelowna businesses fleeing Leon Avenue due to tent city

B.C. law requires that in times of insufficient shelter and housing space for those experiencing homelessness, municipalities may not prohibit all of its parks and public spaces from being used for temporary overnight shelter. Municipalities can, however, designate which parks are used.

“Overnight sheltering in public spaces is not the long-term solution,” said community safety director Darren Caul. “Through the Journey Home Strategy, the city will continue to advocate for the provincial government and community groups to provide additional supportive and scattered housing to eliminate the need for people to shelter outdoors.”

“The properties were selected based on a number of factors that considered the current use, amenities and programming at the site, the accessibility of the site not only for the people sheltering there, but also for emergency services, and the distance to services in the core of the city,” said Caul.

A City of Kelowna news release stated it recognized the response to the rapid growth of those requiring outdoor shelter is not ideal for anyone. “However, it was determined the sites best balanced the rights of the people sheltering outside with people impacted in neighbouring areas and the broader community.”

Two security personnel will monitor the sites daily between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. and there will be an increased presence of both bylaw officers and RCMP officers.

Jock Tyre, general manager of the Kelowna Curling Club, which is located on the same property as the Recreation Avenue site, said his club’s members need to make the best of a bad situation. He said he was only given the heads up about the situation late Monday night.

“We have to straight-up be good citizens,” said Tyre.

“If you’ve got new neighbours, you don’t run over and poke them with a stick. You try it. We see if we can get along. We want to be good neighbours. We want to see what we can do make this the best of a bad situation.”

Tyre said Recreation Avenue is a better option than the encampments that are currently on Leon Avenue.

“It’s a black eye for the city having this as a problem,” he said. “I’d rather have them here on a baseball diamond in an industrial area than somebody losing their livelihood because a business is shutting down.”

In less than 24-hours since he learned about the new camps, Tyre said the city has been very responsive and open to working with him to address his organization’s concerns.

“My concern is security of my membership and my building,” he said.

“The city is addressing that as best as they can with us…and I’m hoping that because we’re in an industrial area it’ll have less impact than if it was put in somebody’s neighbourhood.”

Meanwhile, award-winning Kelowna filmmaker, Carey Missler, posted a video of his drive down the street using a camera mounted to the top of his car. Since Missler posted the video last Wednesday, it has received over 32,000 views. Missler did not provide any context to the clip in the post, just leaving it with a single “?”.


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Lock at Keenleyside Dam near Castlegar to open on May 23

The navigational lock will be open every day of the week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m

Morning start: Rossland is named after this person

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Friday, May 22

Castlegar green spaces will see less maintenance this year

Mowing, weeding and watering will be reduced

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read