The City of West Kelowna council reluctantly amended a zoning bylaw on Tuesday to allow BC Housing to build a temporary homeless shelter at the end of Bartley Road.
One area resident is stupefied by council’s decision to allow BC Housing to erect a modular shelter for 40 people right next to an operating gravel pit.
“Ludicrous,” Ray Lee told Global News while standing at the barren site.
“This is their future home,” Lee said as he stood next to the fence with a sign that said ‘Danger Open Pit Stand Back.’
Lee questions the logic of housing people who are experiencing homelessness on the site.
“People that have issues health-wise, drug addiction so on and so forth. So they are going to put them out in here, in the middle of nowhere, with no services. Basically out of sight, out of mind,” Lee said.
Ray and his wife Barbara live above the gravel pit and worry about more than just the health of the homeless.
“The other issue, too, is the ramifications that are going to happen to this area, which is mainly seniors,” Barbara said.
When asked what the ramifications would be, Barbara Lee openly admitted the one thing she and some neighbours are quite concerned about.
“People doing drugs,” she said.
So Barbara Lee collected 266 names on a protest petition and presented them to city council on Tuesday night, but to no avail.
“Locating shelters is never a never an easy exercise,” West Kelowna’s director of development, Mark Koch, told Global News.
According to Koch, the city was hard-pressed to find another site.
“Communities of our age don’t typically have a large land bank, so there really aren’t many options,” he said.
Koch added that there’s a plan in place to mitigate some of the negative factors of locating the shelter next to the gravel pit.
All that aside, Barbara Lee understands the need to house the homeless, but just can’t fathom why the city couldn’t find a more appropriate location.
“It just doesn’t seem right that this is the only option that they came up with for housing these people,” she said.
The new shelter is set to open its doors sometime this fall and will operate for three years.