City of Kelowna tears down homeless encampment at end of McCurdy Road, closes Rail Trail Thursday morning

Encampment comes down

UPDATE 4:09 p.m.

The City of Kelowna has announced that they will be closing the Rail Trail between Dilworth Drive and McCurdy Road on Thursday.

The stretch of the trail will be closed to allow for heavy equipment to safely access the area.

The trail will be closed April 4, 2024, between 7 a.m. and approximately 1 p.m.

Signage will be posted advising cyclists and pedestrians of the closure and to take alternate routes.

ORIGINAL 2:13 p.m.

City of Kelowna crews are working to clear out a homeless encampment at the end of McCurdy Road on the banks of Mill Creek.

The encampment is near 2755 McCurdy Road, a large vacant private property next to the Rail Trail and businesses on McCurdy Place.

Castanet reader Ted Gerk spotted the encampment and says he saw several wood structures, one complete with a chimney nestled in amongst the trees and brush with Mill Creek running through the property.

Gerk lives in the Glenmore area and walks along the ridge frequently. He spotted a fire near the encampment on Tuesday and believes authorities discovered the location when they went to fight the fire. Gerk says the encampment has been there for some time now, but start growing significantly over the past year.

"It was funny because when the fire was announced (Tuesday), I thought 'Oh, the authorities are going to notice this finally.' And sure enough."

City of Kelowna spokesperson Tom Wilson said staff, emergency crews and partners "started working Tuesday with the property owner to remove several entrenched encampments and clean up the property."

There were six entrenched encampments and approximately 20 people sheltering on the property.

"There are several risks to the people sheltering outdoors on the site, including fire and flooding, which is why we have asked the property owner to clean up the site," says Wilson.

Gert believes Tuesday's fire was connected to the encampment, "I'm positive, the fire is connected. I took a picture of where the fire was at the tree and that's directly up from where the encampment was."

Wilson says RCMP along with outreach services like BC Housing are working to ensure that the individuals who were living on the property are supported throughout their relocation from the property.

"We continue to provide and support a designated outdoor sheltering area at the intersection of Richter Street and the Rail Trail," noted Wilson.

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