Built city in a proper way

People experiencing homelessness are not allowed to live our parks.

We force people, who have no where else to go to live in a specific park. Parks are community property that belong to everyone but we force our poorest and most vulnerable out of most parks to live under conditions most readers would find horrific.

It is only by our own lack of inclusive policy, by refusing to pursue a policy that equitably builds low-income, accessible housing projects because we believe the lie that poor people bring crime and because we allow developers to squeeze every cent out our communities without providing livable housing for everyone in our entire community. It’s also by city councils that refuse to take action and by a system that prioritizes housing only few can afford.

Kelowna needs a mayor and council that not only understands that but acknowledges it through action. The perpetual finger pointing is over.

Policies and plans are needed —ones with guts and ones that tell developers we expect better. We expect them to include fully accessible, low-income units. If the government is going to increase access to MAiD, but not increase housing benefits, we are going to (need to do) everything we can to provide housing. Disability should not be a death sentence and we are better than that.

Policies that shift from paying for policing people experiencing homelessness, by both bylaw and the RCMP, to providing low-income housing and better access to mental health care and substance use treatment. Treat homelessness at the cause rather than punishing people for being homeless. Don’t just build a few shelters and call it a day.

Homelessness and the lack of affordable housing are both at critical levels in Kelowna. Perhaps they are related. Maybe we should look into that.

Maybe we should also look at (how) the high cost of living is creating crime. Everyone is talking about crime right? Why has the crime rate increased so dramatically? A real shift is necessary in how we approach this.

Let's build Kelowna—but let's build it the correct way— into a city that is safe for everyone.

Heather Friesen

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