Renovations are going ahead at a former BC Tree Fruits warehouse in Kelowna’s north end to make it the home of a new temporary homeless shelter. It will be operated by Kelowna Gospel Mission.
In a statement to Global News, BC Housing said it collaborated with the City of Kelowna, spending several months searching for an appropriate location.
“The Bay Avenue shelter was the only property available to be leased that met BC Housing criteria. Given the housing crisis, the immediate need for a new shelter, and no other options available to us, we made the decision to lease this space.”
One of the issues local residents brought forward after the initial announcement was safety.
“They are promising that they’re going to put every effort into the safety of the public and everything. And to keep it as low-key as possible so there’s not so much of a disruption in the neighbourhood for the children,” Roy Paulson, who lives next door to the market.
“The main concern is our neighbourhood is a tent city because it’s not controlled by anyone. This is monitored by security and run by Gospel Mission. That’s something positive here, we are getting listened to by BC Housing,” said Ashok Tyagi is the owner of Knox Mountain Market, across the street from the warehouse.
A letter was sent out to residents and store owners near the warehouse advising them of the changes coming to the building. Tyagi says he’s been fielding questions from local residents.
“When they come in the store, they ask what’s going on. They feel more comfortable talking with us and asking us questions,” said Tyagi.
Renovations at the shelter are expected to be completed by September.