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Kelowna getting homeless complex

It’s a vacant lot in the middle of a commercial sector on Enterprise Way — soon to be the home for a large housing facility for the homeless.

Global Okanagan has learned that BC Housing intends on building a 12,000-sq. ft, 55 bed supportive housing centre as part of the B.C. government’s plan to address the housing and homelessness crisis.

Kelowna mayor, Colin Basran, says it was BC Housing that selected the location and Kelowna taxpayers will not be footing the bill.

“The City of Kelowna is not contributing to this project so this is fully funded by the provincial government,” Basran said. “That’s a huge benefit in that City of Kelowna taxpayers are not contributing funds to this project, but I will say that this is a much needed project in our community.”

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One nearby business owner says the location of the project is news to her.

“I do believe that the businesses around here should have been at least informed, if not asked about how they feel about it and this is the first I’ve heard about it,” Pat McCutcheon of Nail Techniques Beauty Supply said.

The property manager for area businesses is equally surprised to hear the news. Shirley Mehus of Coldwell Property Management says the location doesn’t make sense because it’s in the middle of a commercial sector.

“We have experienced a lot of problems with homeless people at several of our properties and I would expect the same,” she said.

However, there are sympathetic neighbours. Audi Kelowna says even though they’ve repeatedly been the target of vandals in the past, they understand that the homeless need somewhere to go.

“We’re okay with it. We’ve had some issues in the past so it’s a little concerning for us because we’ve had some theft and damage to the dealership. It’s not too exciting until we get all the details but interesting for sure,” manager Ross Buchanan said.

Mayor Basran says the homeless don’t necessarily have to be isolated to the downtown area.

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“When you talk to business owners and people who live downtown — this should be dispersed equally throughout all neighbourhoods and I think this is another opportunity where we can do that and not have everything concentrated in one particular area.”

An official announcement, including the price tag for the project, is expected soon.