Outdoor Overnight Sheltering in Designated Sites
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.
With the addition of 38 units of housing with supports on Ellis Street, the adjacent space on Recreation Avenue that has served as an outdoor overnight sheltering space since last Fall, will be relocated to 890 Baillie Avenue.
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 pm to 9 am.
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, 231 units of supportive housing have been added in Kelowna, including the most recent addition of Stephen Village. While 87 additional units of housing with supports will come on stream by Jan 2021 (Ellis and McCurdy), current projections indicate that the number of people sheltering will continue to exceed available housing space for the foreseeable future. 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.
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 FAQs, Call for staff and volunteers
Dec 2019 - Fuller Ave Temporary Housing Announcement, FAQs, Fact Sheet
Due to an insufficient number of indoor sheltering spaces, the City has a legal obligation not to prohibit overnight sheltering in public spaces. While there is no ideal outdoor location for people to shelter overnight in our community, the City continues to try and balance legal obligations, humanitarian efforts and operational risks.
The designated location best balances the rights of the people sheltering outside with people impacted in the neighbouring areas and broader community as well as considering current use, amenities and programming at the site, the accessibility of the site not only for the people sheltering there, but also for emergency services, and the distance to services in the core of the city.
The following principles were applied:
- The site needs to minimize potential traffic risk for motorists and people moving between the sites and supportive services downtown
- The site had to be large enough to allow for safe spacing between shelters for fire safety
- The site had to allow quick access to ensure the safety of both the people sheltering at the site and emergency responders
- The site had to mitigate potential conflicts between those seeking safe overnight shelter and other public uses
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and adapt as new solutions are found. This is a response to a rapidly changing situation due to a lack of social housing, emergency shelters and the growth in the number of people sheltering outside. This is not a long-term solution.
When there are enough shelter beds or housing to accommodate those in need, overnight sheltering in public spaces will no longer be legally required or allowed by the City.
Several reasons but the main ones include lack of available land, appropriate buildings and operators and staff to manage the shelter space. We’re still working every day with other community agencies to identify locations.
Many factors contribute to complex social issues such as poverty, lack of affordable and social housing and the opioid crisis. While many advances have been made in the implementation of the Journey Home Strategy, the issues are very complex and will take time to fully eliminate episodic and chronic homelessness.
Maintaining quality of life and safety for all Kelowna residents is the highest priority. Through a combination of police, bylaw, security and other measures, the level of proactive attention and response to the sites and immediate areas will be enhanced at the designated site and immediate areas.
- Active monitoring of CCTV 24/7.
- The RCMP and City Bylaw will have an increased presence in the area.
- Set-up and take-down times will be strictly enforced.
- The sites will be cleaned daily by Park Services contractors. The sites and surrounding areas will also be swept for improperly disposed sharps. We will track where needles are reported, monitor and adjust sweeps as necessary.
- Basic hygienic amenities will be provided at the two locations (toilets, garbage disposal, sharps disposal)
The City is aware of Provincial Bill 41, Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People's Act, that was introduced into the Legislature in October 2019. The actual implications of the legislation, once brought into force, will be open to interpretation. We will continue to work with senior levels of government and our community partners to implement short and long-term solutions to eliminate the need for anyone to shelter outside.
In the creation of the community-built, Journey Home Strategy, the Indigenous community was an important part of the consultation and Task Force that informed the strategy. Reconciliation is built into the values for the strategy to help ensure that the voice of many diverse communities and populations are at the core of the implementation of the plan.
Between the hours of 7 a.m. – midnight, call Bylaw at 250-469-8686.
Between the hours of midnight and 7 a.m., call the RCMP non-emergency line at 250- 762-3300.
Information about ‘who to call, when to call’ can be found at kelowna.ca/safety. Emergency situations should always be reported to 9-1-1 and the RCMP. Non-emergency concerns about the overnight shelter site can be reported on the Service Request System.
Please do not drop off items directly to those sheltering outside given that they do not have a lot of personal storage locations available to them. Please read related news release from Dec. 6, 2019.
If you are looking to support those living without homes in our community, the following agencies provide services and support for people experiencing homelessness and you can contact them directly to ask what items are needed on any given day and where items should be dropped off.
If you see a crime taking place or are in immediate danger, please contact 9-1-1.