Kelowna man wants city to take action on squatters in his neighbourhoodd

Fed up with squatters

A Kelowna resident is concerned about squatters taking shelter across the street from his home.

Jeff Christie says he doesn’t feel safe in his own neighbourhood. An abandoned house on the corner of Pridham Avenue and Chandler Street has become a popular place for shelter for some experiencing homelessness. Just last month, things got too close for comfort for Christie and his family.

“In the middle of the night, somebody actually broke into our house and ended up passing out on our couch. It's a huge concern. Not just for my family, but for everyone in this area, especially with young kids,” said Christie. “I’ve had enough.”

Christie says he calls the RCMP almost daily about the things he is seeing directly across from his house. Last Friday, he called police about two individuals that later led to the help of Kelowna Fire and Rescue and RCMP.

“This lady comes from the other end of the street, and she's just got nothing on. She goes in the garage, comes out and then all of a sudden I see smoke and then flames. It was a chaotic sight to see,” described Christie.

The concerned resident says the City of Kelowna needs to step up and do more to help those experiencing homelessness, and offer more resources to make sure the problem doesn't persist.

“There's gotta be something the city can do, because when we call, it's just catch and release. They'll take them somewhere, let them go and they'll come right back,” said Christie.

He also wants the city to give residents in the area answers about what's being done to help the homeless population so he and his neighbours can put their worries to rest.

City of Kelowna community safety director Darren Caul says the municipality is trying to connect people experiencing homelessness with housing.

“BC Housing and the provincial government, who have the mandate and the mission as it relates to housing, have been working extensively with Journey Home and the City of Kelowna, as well as the not-for-profit organizations that were so fortunate to have operate in Kelowna, to do their very best to find a pillow and roof for everyone thats in need in our city."

Caul said there are a number of factors that are causing the uptick in homelessness in our community.

“It's a function of the opioid crisis, COVID aggravated the situation and we all know that affordable housing in our community is a particular challenge that even further aggravates this issue,” said Caul.

If you see an act of crime in the works, its best to dial 9-1-1, and if you see suspicious activity or something that does not appear quite right, call the RCMP’s non-emergency line at 250-762-3300.

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