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Winter homeless shelter opens in downtown Kelowna

Global News

The building that once housed the iconic A and B Sound music store and most recently a pop-up Halloween store in downtown Kelowna is being converted into a homeless shelter during the winter months.

“When we had the cold snap a couple of weeks ago it became quite clear to all of us in the community that we needed more resources,” Kelowna’s John Howard Society executive director Gaelene Askeland said.

The John Howard Society will run the new temporary winter response shelter at 425 Leon Avenue.

Called Cornerstone, the shelter will operate round the clock seven days a week with fewer restrictions than other facilities.

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“We have cart storage so folks who have chosen to stay outside because their carts couldn’t go inside with them,  that will be alleviated here because they can bring carts in and we will have secure storage for them,” she said.  “Folks can come in as couples and stay together, cats, rats, animals, you know dogs, pets.  People are just welcome,  we are trying to make it as few barriers as possible to come inside and stay warm through the winter.”

The shelter will house up to 80 homeless or at-risk people per night.

They will  receive two hot meals a day courtesy of the nearby Gospel Mission, which has been running at over-capacity.

“It’s a different kind of thing than we have done here in Kelowna before,” Askeland said. “We are open 24/7 so the residents that come in and register with us get a mat. It will be their mat until the end of March…they don’t have to get up and out in the morning, they can stay all the way through the day.”

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The shelter opens Thursday evening.