Outdoor Overnight Sheltering in Designated Sites
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 is working collaboratively with its housing and social sector partners to reset the Journey Home Strategy so goals and targets are well matched to current conditions and challenges, and to ultimately eliminate the need for anyone to shelter outside.
When there is insufficient housing and shelter space for people experiencing homelessness, the law in British Columbia prevents the City from prohibiting temporary overnight sheltering from all its parks and public spaces. The City can, however, identify which parks or public spaces the prohibition against overnight sheltering will not be applied.
The current designated outdoor sheltering site is located at the intersection of Richter Street and the Rail Trail. The site is temporary and there is no intention it will become a permanent fixture or entrenched encampment. The City’s aim is for every Kelowna resident to have access to indoor shelter, at which time an outdoor sheltering site will no longer be needed. The City is making significant progress toward this goal with its housing partners and is making every effort to reduce the need for an outdoor sheltering site at the soonest possible opportunity.
The site is monitored by security personnel as well as closed-circuit television. 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, including police, ambulance, and fire.
City policy does not require a full daily decampment as it has in the past, however those using the site are expected to regularly move their belongings during designated weekdays so garbage, debris and unclaimed property can be managed. Seasonally, larger efforts are expended to prepare for the site for changes in temperature and ensuring appropriate distance between tents for fire and life safety measures.
Running water is available seasonally, garbage is picked up, portable toilets are serviced, and the onsite sharps disposal box is emptied daily. Support for those sheltering outdoors is coordinated and provided by local social support agencies. Residents wishing to provide goods or services for residents of the designated overnight site are encouraged to coordinate efforts with these agencies to minimize food waste and maximize resources. Personal belongings storage is available at the Metro Community Drop-In program.