The Kelowna Gospel Mission opened the doors to their Bay Avenue homeless shelter Friday to give the public an opportunity to ask questions and check it out for themselves ahead of the official opening.
An actual opening date for overnight use is still to-be-determined at the Mission desperately searches for staff, but an open house was held Friday to engage with the neighbourhood.
“It means hope in our community. The fact that there’s great organizations like KGM supported by BC Housing and many others to make this kind of thing happen," said Jude Brunt, an attendee of the open house.
"We need it. It’s a growing issue and this is part of a journey for people. I love that ... it’s got a bit of a hostel vibe, and it looks like a great new facility in our community."
The facility in the old BC Tree Fruits packinghouse will sleep 60 people, serve three meals a day, provide hot showers, free laundry services, provide supports and resources, and has supervised consumption site for people experiencing addiction.
“We’re looking forward to bringing 60 of them inside where it’s safer, where they can have a safe place to sleep, where they can have access to resources,” said Kelowna Gospel Mission executive director Carmen Rempel.
“So whether you have a barrier to employment, whether it’s addiction, whether it’s social in nature – a breaking of a relationship that lands people here – We’re able to work with that individual with our individual case workers to bring them up and out of homelessness.”
The shelter will keep 60 people safe and warm over the winter months, but serves Kelowna as a temporary solution, with plans to close sometime in 2023.
“So today is a good news story, but it’s just temporary. We need more permanent solutions to get people housed, to get them the help they need to turn their lives around so that they don’t continue to be on our streets," said Basran.
"But at the end of the day I believe this will be a well run facility, and I know that there’s measurements in place for residents to be able to show their concerns, and hopefully this will be a win-win for the community.”