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Kelowna  

Bylaw moving Kelowna's homeless population away from sidewalks and back alleys

Unhoused moved along

The number of Kelowna's unhoused population taking shelter on city sidewalks and back alleys has begun to dwindle over the past several days.

As temperatures continue to rise from frigid cold temperatures the city has experienced and snow continues to melt away, bylaw officers have been "encouraging them" to make their way to Kelowna's designated camp along the Rail Trail.

"With the exception of when we are in extreme weather response mode where we largely allow sheltering in place, we are encouraging them to make their way to the designated site off Weddell and Richter," says bylaw services supervisor Ken Hunter.

While those seeking shelter find any place available to hunker down for the night, no area saw that impact like the back alley and sidewalks around Interior Health's Outreach Urban Health centre at the corner of Pandosy Street and Leon Avenue.

On any given day, dozens of tarps and tents lined that area as people sought shelter and warmth while some also took advantage of services within the outreach centre or other downtown services.

The alley and sidewalks are now bare.

"We always encourage our unhoused neighbours to go to the overnight sheltering site," says Hunter.

"For daytime services, we do encourage people to go to Metro as the city's private contractor for hygiene services, as an application hub for other services and a drop-in centre at the corner of St. Paul and Coronation."

Hunter says more than 70 per cent of daily efforts involving bylaw officers, whether on dedicated teams or general duty, are directed toward the homeless population in one form or another.

"Our ongoing commitment is the same for Outreach Urban Health as it is for the business community and the public at large, and that's to mitigate the impact as best as possible with the resources we have.

"It is a matter of prioritizing effort of limited resources around the city where it needed most at any given time."

All that, says Hunter, is done in conversation and collaboration with the city's non-profit partners, the RCMP, DKA, Interior Health and the larger community.

"In a lot of ways that is encouraging property owners and operators to share that load and do our best in working with us to manage that as best we can."



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