Homeless camps return

About two weeks after the city cleared out about 20 people living in the Esplanade Park area behind the Penticton Marina, many of the camps have re-established.

Winter homeless shelters in Penticton closed on April 1, leaving the city’s homeless on the streets while construction crews work away on a pair of supportive housing projects.

While some set up for the night in breezeways and alleys, Penticton’s homeless have long set up in the Esplanade Trail, an area dubbed by some “the hobo jungle” or “hobo trails.”

Bylaw services manager Tina Siebert says their plan of action this year is “same as years prior.”

“Spring and summer we do regular checks in the Esplanade to attempt to keep it as clean and safe as we can for all park users,” she said in an email.

“It gives us the ability to know who, where and how many people may be homeless and get them connected to community resources if they aren't already,” she added. “It's also important that in the event of an emergency (fire or medical) we can access the area quickly.”

BC Housing says the first batch of 18 supportive units in its Compass Court project at the old Super 8 motel will be finally coming online this spring. Another 22 housing units there for the homeless should be completed later this year.

Across town on Winnipeg Street, crews are working on a 62-unit modular development for people with a history of homelessness or currently on the streets. Those units should come online this summer.

It’s hoped the two projects will make actions like the sweeps of the Esplanade Trail area less necessary.

Supt. Ted De Jager told council last month the detachment is hopeful the new units will “help solve” many of the local issues revolving around homelessness.

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