Residents of Kelowna homeless camp say they were paid to attend a protest outside city hall Monday

Homeless paid to protest

Kelowna city council candidate Daniel Joseph says he gave out free burgers and donations but didn’t specifically pay anyone from the homeless population to attend a rally for affordable housing outside city hall Monday.

People who protested say otherwise. Castanet visited the camp along the Rail Trail Tuesday and spoke to a number of people who said they were paid $50 and a burger in exchange for their attendance outside city hall.

Community activist Heather Friesen calls it using people as props to get elected. She is a frequent visitor to the tent city.

“I’ve been going down there so long and not once has anyone ever said Gord Lovegrove’s name or Daniel Joseph’s name. They all know who I am and they all know I was going to run for office and then I ended up not being able to run for office because I have health problems.”

Friesen says everyone knows where she stands.

“For them just to show up one day out of the blue and say here’s fifty bucks, come protest with us. To me, that’s using people as props to get elected. That’s shady as f--k.”

Joseph claims that donations were given to some of those in need at the camp.

“Basically, I walked from the rail trail with around 50 residents of the tent city, to city hall for the protest,” he told Castanet in a text message.

“I had a box full of burgers ordered, but also felt bad for how these people were living, so gave out burgers and cash donations to everyone who needed it.”

Fellow city council candidate Gord Lovegrove also attended the protest and insisted no one was paid to take part.

“I know for a fact, and Daniel and I know each other well enough to trust what each other says, I didn’t pay them to attend there, he didn’t pay them to attend there. But there was burgers handed out for free at the camp and donations made.”

Friesen questions the use of the word "donations," adding that those she spoke to at the camp felt they were paid to protest.

Residents of the camp also told a Castanet reporter they felt they were paid to attend. One man who opted to not attend the protest, because of his old age and the poor weather, said he never received a donation.

Some tent city residents, however, did say they believed in the message being put forward by the protest—the need for affordable housing.

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