Major cleanup of remote homeless camp in Penticton, B.C. ongoing

Click to play video: 'Major cleanup of remote homeless camp continues in Penticton, B.C.'
Major cleanup of remote homeless camp continues in Penticton, B.C.
Major cleanup of remote homeless camp continues in Penticton, B.C – Apr 25, 2022

Piles of trash have been collected along the shoreline of Okanagan Lake, discarded by people who often call the area home.

The remote homeless camp is located nearly two kilometres northeast of the Penticton Marina and despite the camp being so far away, campers still manage to bring many large items to the spot.

“It was amazing some of the stuff they bring out here. Beds, couches, chairs, it’s a long walk,” said a cleanup volunteer from ASK Wellness Society Jason Kalyniuk.

“It’s tough to see that out here because it’s beautiful out here and to have that litter along the banks, it’s no good.”

On Monday city crews worked in conjunction with volunteers from ASK Wellness Society’s Ambassador Program to clean up the area, using a boat to access the beach.

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“The city is very thankful for the relationship with ASK Wellness and we really appreciate the assistance that they provided [on Monday], we couldn’t have done it without them,” said Penticton Bylaw Services manager Tina Mercier.
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The Ambassador program is a peer employment program based out of ASK Wellness Society’s supportive housing sites.

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Keith Girard, ASK Wellness Society tenant support worker and Ambassador Program team lead, said that all the volunteers thought it was important to take part in the cleanup.

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“Sometimes people have the wrong perception of people living on the streets or struggling with mental health or homelessness so they wanted to be out here trying to change the narrative and to give back to their community,” said Girard.

One of the volunteers Jason Kalyniuk has been living in supportive housing for two years and said he is thankful to be a part of the program.

“It’s a great program; we get to give back to the community. I myself for a while was living on the streets, homeless, and this is just something I figured I needed to do to give back to the community,” said Kalyniuk.

Around five to 10 campers frequent the area and were given plenty of notice and support to relocate before crews began the cleanup.

“We’ve offered them a lot of resources, tried to get some [vulnerability assessment tools] completed to get them on a housing registry list and connected to services,” said Mercier.
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Bylaw Services said the location of the camp is concerning as it is disconnected from all resources.

“Especially with any life-saving measures. In the event of a fire or an overdose of some sort it’s just so far out there it would take crews a very long time to get out there by walking, by boat,” said Mercier.

The cleanup is ongoing and officers will continue to monitor the area as for years it has become a popular camping spot for people experiencing homelessness.

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