Kelowna residents rally against proposed homeless facility
Vehicles flow past a small homeless camp on Springfield Road.
It’s about a block away from this vacant lot, where B.C. Housing wants to build a 52-unit, four-storey apartment building for the homeless. Some area residents are not happy about it.
“This neighbourhood . . . I don’t think is suitable for a neighbourhood like this,” said area resident Richard Taylor.
Taylor lives in the InVue condo tower, which would overlook the proposed social housing project. He says putting a homeless facility in the neighbourhood will be a gamble.
“Similar facilities have — over 80 per cent of people who reside in there have substance abuse issues,” said Taylor. “They have weekly call outs from the RCMP — attending because of threats to staff and other issues. So there’s risk associated with this facility.”
“I wasn’t so concerned about the people who are going to be inside the building as the hangers-on and the loiterers around,” said area resident David Bradshaw.
Bradshaw is the strata president for this condo building — across the street from the proposed facility. He paints a pretty grim picture if the facility is approved.
“I used to run a garment factory in downtown Vancouver,” said Bradshaw. “And coming in the morning to open up, I used to have to dodge past the prostitutes and sort of say no to the drug dealers and step over the guys that are sleeping on the loading bay. We don’t want that here.”
The facility will be run by the John Howard Society and B.C. Housing says an open house will be held next month. The City of Kelowna the property is already zoned for the facility, but it would still need to obtain a development permit.
The city adds that, in general, council has been supportive of these kinds of developments.
Late Friday, B.C. Housing replied to Global News regarding its position on the housing project. The email said:
“We recognize the urgent need to better support people experiencing homelessness in Kelowna. The 52 supportive modular homes at 2025 Agassiz Road are a part of the Province’s Rapid Response to Homelessness program and are much needed. The homes will benefit both people experiencing homelessness and the entire community by giving residents access to safe, secure housing, and 24/7 support services that will provide them with the opportunity to rebuild their lives.
“B.C. Housing has successfully housed thousands of people in supportive housing units across the province and we recognize the impact homelessness is having on communities of all sizes. B.C. Housing, Interior Health and the John Howard Society of the Central and South Okanagan (JHSCSO) are all committed to ensuring the safety of residents, and neighbors in the surrounding community. Experience has shown us that we can create a positive environment in the building and successful integration with the local community through ensuring there is a healthy resident mix, and through 24/7 support. B.C. Housing, JHSCSO and several other community agencies will coordinate the resident selection process to ensure an appropriate mix of residents and to determine that the right support services are in place to ensure tenants remain housed and are able take the steps they need to transition to permanent housing.
“B.C. Housing will continue to follow — and exceed — policy minimums set out by the City of Kelowna for applications to rezone property. We are currently gathering input that will be compiled and provided to the City of Kelowna as part of the municipal process, just like any other land developer.”
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