A new pilot program aimed at keeping North Shore streets clean while providing vulnerable people with work experience will launch this month, after Kamloops council approved a service agreement helping to kickstart the project.
Sarah Candido, external relations liaison for the City of Kamloops, said the Clean Team pilot will be offered through a partnership between the North Shore Business Improvement Association, ASK Wellness, WorkBC, Open Door Group, the Canadian Mental Health Association and the city.
Candido said there will be eight people hired to work on the team, with four employees patrolling the North Shore business corridors in pairs from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.
“The plan is to patrol the corridor safely cleaning up graffiti, litter, feces, sharps and other refuse four to seven days a week, dependent on worker availability,” Candido said.
“ASK Wellness and the NSBIA will provide safety training for those employees before the start, and will provide such on an ongoing basis.”
Candido said the Clean Team will fill a gap between existing cleaning programs, which focus on city-owned property, and North Shore businesses asking for extra support.
According to the city, the program will hire residents looking to build their employability.
“The program will provide meaningful work experience and training for marginalized people who seek to earn funds and move towards long term housing and employment,” Candido said.
“It will also potentially add more meaningful connection to community for them, which has also been shown to improve overall health outcomes.”
The pilot project will run for 20 weeks, but according to a city staff report prepared for council, the goal is to have the program operationalized for the long-term.
“If the Clean Team is successful in its mandate, WorkBC, Open Door Group, the Canadian Mental Health Association, ASK Wellness, the NSBIA, the City, and others will work throughout that time to find a longer-term solution to fund the program on an ongoing basis,” the report said.
According to the city, funding to start the project will come from a repurposed ASK Wellness grant. Wages for Clean Team staff and other expenses will be covered by ASK Wellness, Work BC and Open Door Group.
Candido asked council to approve a service agreement totalling $30,241 from the Strengthening Communities grant for the pilot program, which will cover some of the Clean Team’s operations.
Candido said city staff will also offer in-kind donations totalling $4,135 for cleaning supplies, and the donation of a side-by-side vehicle and pick-up truck — each estimated at $5,000.
The city's waste management team will also need to increase services to the North Shore, a value of $4,000.
Coun. Sadie Hunter said she is excited to see the initiative come forward to council. She noted she had recently attended a panel discussion comprised of people with lived experience who highlighted the importance of purposeful employment.
“I think it’s going to be really impactful and I look forward to this,” Hunter said.
Coun. Mike O’Reilly, Coun. Dieter Dudy, and Coun. Arjun Singh also gave kudos for those involved in putting together this pilot project.
City council voted in favour of approving the service agreement.