Controversial West Kelowna hygiene centre for homeless population abandoned

Click to play video: 'Food Bank responds to hygiene centre proposal'
Food Bank responds to hygiene centre proposal
The central Okanagan food bank is speaking out after concerns and questions were raised about a proposed hygiene centre at its vacant building in West Kelowna. As our Taya Fast reports, the proposal was not food bank's idea and there are still no decisions as to whether or not the proposal will move forward – Jun 21, 2024

Plans for a controversial hygiene centre in West Kelowna, B.C.,  have seemingly come to a halt.

“Upon further consideration, key partnering organizations have indicated they are no longer interested in pursuing the proposed hygiene centre in the proposed location,” director of development approvals Brent Magnan said in a report headed to council Tuesday.

“As a result, the proposal will not be proceeding as outlined and no additional reporting is anticipated on this proposal at this time.”

West Kelowna city council first put plans for a new hygiene centre on a temporary hold last month amid concerns about the potential impact to the community.

Click to play video: 'Concerns being raised about hygiene centre'
Concerns being raised about hygiene centre

The proposed facility would be for people experiencing homelessness to receive meals and showers access laundry and shelter during the day. The location was a vacant building off Churchill Road in the downtown core that is owned by the food bank and already zoned for that use.

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Coun. Rick de Jong was one of the critics of the proposal and said he thought it was too close to the Lady of Lourdes elementary school, the community waterpark and Julia’s Junction, an inclusive playground.

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“Is the right place to put in a hygiene centre and potentially a harm reduction centre for this community? I would say at this point in time, my opinion is no,” de Jong said. “Do we need something like this? Yes. But we need to dig in and find a location that suits everybody.”

Whether a new location will rematerialize down the road remains to be seen and was not mentioned in the report.

Interior Health said a hygiene centre offers important support to individuals without homes by providing a facility where they can maintain their personal hygiene and have access to facilities where they can get their basic needs met in an appropriate location.

“It also creates an opportunity for individuals to link to various social or health services in an accessible location,” Interior Health deputy chief medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema said in a statement to Global News.

“Additionally, access to this centre can also provide improvements in both physical and mental health, enhancing overall wellbeing which can result in better quality of life and access to opportunities to improve one’s living conditions, and helping foster a stronger sense of belonging within their community.”

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— with files from Taya Fast



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