With the arrival of snow on Boxing Day, the opening of a temporary homeless shelter in West Kelowna is timely.
It’s located at the United Church on Browne Road.
Rosemary Weighill runs the shelter. She says demand has been steady, but slow.
“It was a slow opening on Saturday, with people going home for Christmas. I believe they only had nine overnight,” she said.
The shelter can accommodate 30 right now, but there are plans to expand it to 40 with the arrival of bunk beds.
Winter shelters are nothing new to West Kelowna. They’ve been around for about four years, but this is the first 24-hour shelter where those who use it don’t have to leave during the day.
There are an estimated 100 homeless people in West Kelowna.
Daniel is one of them. He has fallen on hard times and says without the shelter, he’d be on the streets trying to survive.
“Living out on the street is very tough. It’s very tough just to get a meal sometimes. You have to fight — go across town whatever you have to do to that destination, get clothing, keep it clean. It’s really hard to do,” he said. “So now you can do it all here. You can shower properly which makes a big difference in a person’s appeal and so on in order to get a job and move forward.”
The opening of this West Kelowna shelter means there will be five homeless shelters operating in the Central Okanagan, but that number will be down to four again because Inn from the Cold in Kelowna will be closing its doors at the end of this month as it struggles to find a new home.