Kelowna Chamber met with BC Housing resistance

Kelowna's Chamber of Commerce says it was meeting with BC Housing officials last Thursday morning, just before they made an official announcement to fund the downtown Cornerstone homeless shelter for another year.

Past President Tom Dyas says that while downtown businesses are in full support of funding supports for homeless, the high concentration in the downtown core has many raising safety concerns.

He says the province gave the Chamber two weeks to prepare a presentation on alternate solutions, which weren't met with much interest.

"All of the offers that we presented, they said were not suitable, or did not work because of location or zoning. So we believe that their mind was already made up," he said.

"It was our hope that we could have further discussions and open discussions to present alternatives, as potentially they may be substantially less expensive than the option that they've signed onto at this point in time."

Dyas says the Chamber would prefer to see a higher number of smaller shelters that are more evenly dispersed around the city.

He says BC Housing has said it will look into new locations for, and potentially open new shelters over the next year.

Dyas says the Chamber has made two follow-up requests to that.

"As they continue to look for alternative accomodations over the next few months, that as those accomodations are found, that the number of residents that exist at the Cornerstone location come down as they find new locations," he said.

"And as it gets to that level that they have found enough housing locations, that Cornerstone is not operating anymore."

Cornerstone was opened last November, with the original plan keeping it open until the end of last month.

Dyas says much of the decision making has been rushed.

"It is regrettable that there wasn't potentially better planning through those months coming up to this, so that there was alternatives that were structured. Moreso than just renewing this lease, and the expense associated with renewing this lease in an area of town that's fairly expensive. And also, putting everyone on one street."