West Kelowna Mayor - Shelters Aren't the Problem

Gord Milsom

A town meeting is being held on June 27th to address concerns around the drug crisis and criminal activity in West Kelowna.

Businesses in Westbank and West Kelowna’s downtown area have expressed concerns about vacancy, loitering, and criminal activity.

Public blame has focused on shelter occupants in the area as the main cause for concern.

Mayor Gord Milsom doesn't think that is the case.

“It’s not necessarily coming from the individuals staying in the shelter.”

He believes the concern might actually be from individuals who are living in tents, who struggle with mental health and addiction problems.

"Not all the individuals that are living in the rough want to actually commit to living in a more permanent transitional shelter arrangement, where they are obligated to take certain steps and work with professionals to improve their lives," said Milsom.

The Shelter Society, police and West Kelowna city staff will highlight initiatives taking place to help manage the situation in the downtown core and reduce concerns.

On June 26th a report will hit the council table outlining what’s happened so far, various initiatives and where we can go as a city in solving these issues.

“It’s not our jurisdiction but we’re taking a leadership role. We want to do what we can to make sure our downtown core is a safe place, that businesses continue to do well, that employees and customers don’t feel threatened and at the same time perhaps there are ways these individuals can be helped.” Said milsom.