Outdoor Overnight Sheltering in Designated Sites

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The City and its partners are taking action through the Journey Home Strategy and working with the provincial government to eliminate the need for anyone to shelter outside. In the meantime, there are people living in our community who do not have homes for a variety of reasons.

A new temporary, outdoor sheltering site at the intersection of Richter Street and the Rail Trail will replace the old site at 890 Baillie Avenue at the beginning of May 2021. The site will be closer to services, and landscape, tree and plant features will better separate it from the Rail Trail. Input into the design from the Lived Experience Circle on Homelessness (LECoH), Bylaw Services and the Kelowna RCMP will optimize safety and security, while also meeting basic needs for people sheltering there.

The City has a legal obligation

When there is insufficient housing and shelter space for people experiencing homelessness, the law in British Columbia requires that the City may not prohibit all its parks and public spaces from being used for temporary overnight sheltering for those who do not have a home. The City can, however, identify which parks or public spaces the prohibition against overnight sheltering will not be applied.

Portable washrooms, waste receptacles and sharps containers will be provided at the designated site. Temporary overnight sheltering will be from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m.

Daily removal of overnight shelters will occur to balance the rights of people experiencing homelessness with those of the broader community, to enable continued availability of City lands for public use as applicable, and to prevent the inherent risks to public health, safety and security that entrenched encampments present, as seen in other cities.

This is not a long-term solution

Homelessness is an evolving, dynamic crisis in our community. Since 2017, 318 units of supportive housing have been added in Kelowna, including the most recent addition of McCurdy Place in March 2021. Despite the significant progress we have made with our partners in recent years, the number of people sheltering continues to exceed emergency shelter capacity. Municipalities continue to try and manage the downstream consequences resulting from poverty, lack of affordable and social housing, mental health and addiction issues.

The City and its partners continue to support the Journey Home Strategy, based on Housing First principles, and advocate for additional and diverse forms of housing so that everyone in our community can have a place to call home. When there are enough shelter beds and/or housing to accommodate those in need, temporary overnight sheltering in public spaces will no longer be legally required or permitted by the City.

Previous News

Mar 2021 - A new approach to shelters founded on choice, community, safety, healing
Mar 2021 - Achieving progress on our targets - more than 300 units of housing with supports now built
Sept 2020 - Journey Home working with multiple levels of government to provide housing and shelter solutions
Dec 2019 - Changes to Recreation Ave Designated Outdoor Overnight Sheltering site
Dec 2019 - Welcome Inn Temporary Shelter Announcement, Welcome Inn FAQsCall for staff and volunteers
Dec 2019 - Fuller Ave Temporary Housing AnnouncementFAQs, Fact Sheet

More information about temporary overnight sheltering
When will construction start?

Thursday, April 15, 2021. 

How long will construction last?

Construction is expected to last two weeks. 

When will the site be operational?

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the site will be operational by the beginning of May. 

Why is the City replacing the old outdoor sheltering site with this new one?

It is an improvement over the previous site (890 Baillie Avenue) both for Kelowna’s community of people experiencing homelessness, and for area residents and businesses. It is closer to services and better designed, including separation from the Rail Trail.

One success measure for the new site will be the extent to which people choose to shelter there instead of other, dispersed locations. The site was designed with input from RCMP, Bylaw and the Lived Experience Circle on Homelessness (LECoH) to be safe, secure, and viable for people sheltering there.

How long will this site be used?

This site is temporary and there is no intention it will become a permanent fixture. The City’s aim is for every Kelowna resident to have access to shelter, at which time an outdoor sheltering site will no longer be needed. The City has made significant progress toward this goal with partners, including the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society, the provincial government and many others.

What happens to the site when it is no longer needed for outdoor sheltering?

The site will continue as a landscape enhancement along the Rail Trail once there is no longer need for it as an outdoor sheltering site.  

What kind of security measures will be in place at the site?

The site will be monitored by security personnel as well as closed-circuit television (CCTV). The site is designed according to crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) principles, which include clear sightlines, ample lighting and multiple points for access and egress. The site is located near emergency services, which will limit response times in the case police, ambulance, fire or other services are needed. 

What kind of maintenance services will be available at the site?

Garbage is picked up, portable toilets are serviced and the onsite sharps disposal box is emptied on a daily basis. 

How much is this going to cost?

Research indicates it’s much more cost effective to house people than not to do anything. At this time, we’re responding to an emergent issue and a very challenging situation to make sure that the people sheltering outdoors are safe. The true costs of the overall response will likely not be known for some time. 

When are people allowed to occupy the site?

Sheltering at the site will be permitted overnight from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. each day. 

What will happen to the current outdoor sheltering site (890 Baillie Avenue)?

This new site will replace the one at 890 Baillie Avenue, which will be decommissioned once the new site is operational. Much of the equipment used at the Baillie Avenue site, closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras for example, will be repurposed at the new site.