Residents experiencing homelessness have set up camp on a baseball diamond on Recreation Ave in the city’s west end. (Jen Zielinski - Kelowna Capital News)

Kelowna Curling Club will not be used as a shelter space — for now

BC Housing said there is currently no need to activate such a facility

BC Housing said there is no need to open up the Kelowna Curling Club to the city’s homeless population just yet, despite the ongoing use of the city-sanctioned camp right in the club’s backyard.

When the provincial housing authority announced on April 25 it secured 120 beds in Kelowna to allow people experiencing homelessness to safely isolate indoors amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, 40 were earmarked for the curling club.

“The Kelowna Curling Club was identified as a facility to support the vulnerable population in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak,” said spokesperson Samantha Cacnio. “At this time, there is no need to activate such a facility.”

While spaces at the curling club have not opened, the other 80 in Kelowna have — though the three locations they span have not been made public. In addition to those spaces, 15 will also remain available at a temporary winter shelter that BC Housing has allowed to stay open until June. BC Housing has also opened up a 24/7 staffed hygiene shelter at 1265 Ellis St. for people experiencing homelessness to shower, have a proper washroom and have access to laundry facilities.

“BC Housing and its partners are continuing to look at a number of ways to bring people inside and options continue to evolve along with the needs of the community,” said Cacnio. “BC Housing will provide more information if and when additional indoor sheltering sites are made available.”

Twenty spaces have also been secured in West Kelowna for women and children who may have experienced violence at home.

In Vancouver and Victoria, a ministerial order issued the closure of large encampments in both Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park and Victoria’s Topaz Park. The hundreds of people currently residing at those encampments will be offered temporary accommodations in hotels and community centres.

“Providing safe, temporary accommodations and wraparound services for people facing homelessness have been an urgent priority for this government for a long time,” said Shane Simpson B.C.’s Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Now, more than ever, with the concurrent emergencies of the pandemic and the ongoing opioid crisis, it is time to implement long-term housing solutions that take care of and protect our most vulnerable people.”

That order does not apply outside of those two parks.

READ MORE: Residents experiencing homelessness back outdoors as temporary winter shelters close

READ MORE: Government response to people experiencing homelessness in Kelowna

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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