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Kelowna business groups oppose downtown homeless shelter extension

Click to play video: 'Kelowna business community disappointed homeless shelter staying open' Kelowna business community disappointed homeless shelter staying open
Kelowna business community disappointed homeless shelter staying open – Mar 29, 2018

Despite pushback from some local businesses, The Cornerstone homeless shelter in downtown Kelowna will remain open for another year.

Cornerstone is a cold weather shelter located at 425 Leon Avenue that opened Nov. 30 and currently provides 80 mats to the homeless.

READ MORE: Some neighbouring businesses want Kelowna’s largest temporary homeless shelter moved

While it was first pitched as a “temporary” winter shelter, a statement from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said the facility will remain open for another year.

WATCH BELOW: Controversial Kelowna homeless shelter might remain open for another year

Click to play video: 'Controversial Kelowna homeless shelter might remain open for another year' Controversial Kelowna homeless shelter might remain open for another year
Controversial Kelowna homeless shelter might remain open for another year – Mar 14, 2018

The John Howard Society will continue to oversee operation of the shelter.

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READ MORE: Winter homeless shelter opens in downtown Kelowna

Some neighbouring businesses have expressed concern about escalating crime, drug use and vandalism. Some business owners say customers fear visiting their shops and they’d prefer if the shelter was moved to another location.

It’s prompted a number of community meetings between local businesses, RCMP, BC Housing, the City of Kelowna, the John Howard Society and the Chamber of Commerce.

Late Thursday afternoon the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Kelowna Association jointly issued a news release expressing concern with the permanency of the location.

“Our members fully understand the need for the City and BC Housing to provide an emergency shelter while other more suitable housing is in the works,” said Dan Allen, President of Downtown Kelowna.

“We support those efforts and the work of the service providers but we continue to believe that the current location of Cornerstone should not be viewed as a long-term solution.”

The business groups say they will continue to encourage the city and BC Housing to increase security and expand regular clean-up efforts while “aggressively looking at other locations.”

READ MORE: Cold-weather shelter dilemma prompts community meeting in Kelowna

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“By keeping the Cornerstone shelter open for the next year, BC Housing is ensuring those who are homeless in the community have a place to stay,” said the province.

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