Another winter has arrived in Kelowna and for those living on the streets, the potentially deadly consequences played out Saturday night.
Fire ripped through a tent in the Rail Trail encampment just after 9 p.m. on Dec. 9.
One witness said the fire appeared to involve a propane tank, as “something was burning brightly and making a deep, hissing noise.” Witnesses said police and the Kelowna Fire Department attended the scene and extinguished the blaze, but it wasn't clear if anyone was injured.
On Sunday morning, City of Kelowna crews were at the camp cleaning up debris.
Some of those living in the makeshift shelters on the Rail Trail are waiting for the city and BC housing to open a 60-unit tiny homes site right across the street, at 759 Crowley Avenue. But it hasn't come quick enough to offer shelter from the cold and snow.
BC Housing told Castanet the groundwork and utilities preparation is underway and it plans to complete the site in early 2024. However efforts to secure a qualified operator have taken longer than anticipated.
“BC Housing understands the urgent need for more supportive housing in Kelowna, which is why we have been working closely with the City to bring the homes at 759 Crowley Ave. online as soon as possible,” BC Housing said in a statement to Castanet.
BC Housing says it has received applications and will be sharing publicly who the operator will be in the coming weeks. Hopefully, that will be before the worst of winter hits.
Another project, to install 60 modular homes on city-owned land at 2740 Highway 97 N. was announced late last month. Businesses neighbouring both sites have complained about a lack of consultation before BC Housing and the city announced the plans.