Homeless residents who live along rail trail protest outside Kelowna city hall

Homeless rally at city hall

A Kelowna city council candidate led a protest outside city hall Monday afternoon to highlight the plight of the city’s homeless.

Daniel Joseph says it’s an issue close to his heart.

“I was kicked out of the house at 16. I’ve lived in shelters, I’ve lived in my car, I’ve been homeless myself in my youth,” explains Joseph.

“When I was 19 to 20 years old, two of my best friends both passed away from drug overdoses.”

Joseph was joined by about 50 homeless individuals who he says can’t find an affordable place to live to get off the streets.

He and fellow candidate Gord Lovegrove want zoning changes to make it easier to build affordable housing.

“One of the things that I wanted to shed light on is that people talk about homelessness and drug abuse and mental illness as if they’re specifically a provincial issue. Whereas I strongly disagree.

"And both Gord Lovegrove and myself believe that we need strategic, smart growth in the city and zoning is one of the most important things we can look at,’ says Joseph.

He says most of the residential towers under construction or in the planning stages in the city won’t help low income people or ease the rental crisis.

He suggested instead of focusing on the development of mid-rising housing.

“We need to be pushing for the development of low to mid-rising housing complexes which are going to house 40 to 70 people versus the four to 12 we’re going to get out of equivalent RU7 zoning.”

Joseph argues that providing more affordable housing will curb the rising crime linked to people living on the streets.

“No homeless person that supported me is wanting to sleep on the streets. In fact, everyone who came with me down to the rally are all residents of tent city and 90 per cent of them right now, if there were apartments available for $700-$800 a month, they would all be paying for and living in apartments.”

He says taking people off the streets will help the neighbours and businesses that are concerned about crime and drug use on or near their property.

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