City Acknowledges Successes and Challenges at Temporary Emergency Winter Shelter
Kamloops, BC – This City of Kamloops met with community partners today to discuss the successes and challenges of the temporary emergency winter shelter at the former Stuart Wood School and to address the concerns raised by residents at this week’s Council meeting.
Since the shelter opened on November 1, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has welcomed a total of 143 individuals seeking refuge at the shelter, where people are able to access showers, food, and a safe place to sleep as well as limited laundry services. Unique to Stuart Wood, the shelter space is not segregated by gender and can accommodate couples, families, and even pets.
“We’ve seen many new faces at Stuart Wood that we’ve never seen before at Emerald Centre,” says Christa Mullaly, Executive Director of CMHA’s Kamloops Branch. “In addition to providing them shelter, we’ve had an opportunity to build relationships with these folks, which, in our experience, increases the likelihood of them seeking help in the future.”
While the shelter has been successful, the issues surrounding homelessness are still present in the surrounding neighbourhood and throughout the city. This week, neighbouring residents and business owners brought forward concerns about an increase in nuisance behaviours in the area. Some parents have also raised a concern with the City and School District No. 73 about a school bus stop’s proximity to the shelter.
“This level of shelter demand is new for Kamloops, and we’re having to adapt in response to that,” says Jen Casorso, the City’s Social and Planning Development Supervisor.
Current and expanding on-site initiatives at Stuart Wood include:
- From 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, Bylaw Officers, ASK Wellness’s Overdose Prevention Team, Interior Community Services’ Street Outreach Team, and City Parks staff will be expanding their presence on site, specifically around school bus pickup and drop-off times. They will also help to keep the area clean.
- The City will install fencing this week to delineate the shelter space from the playground area and the school bus stop.
- Sharps containers will be installed this week as well as signage reminding all park users that children play in this area.
- Additional lighting is being installed to deter vandalism of the shelter.
“Overall, we’ve felt a lot of support for the shelter,” says Casorso. “When concerns do arise, the co-operation we’ve seen from our community partners has been incredible. Everyone is dedicated to working together to find solutions.”
The temporary emergency winter shelter is funded by BC Housing and operated by CMHA, and it will be open until March 31, 2018.
- If you find discarded needles or other drug paraphernalia anywhere in the city, please contact the ASK Wellness Society via phone or text at 778-257-1292 or email ODP433@askwellness.ca
- If you find discarded needles or other drug-related materials in the downtown area, you can call the CAP team at 250-572-3009.
- To learn how to dispose of needles safely and about services available to at-risk youth in our community, visit www.kamloops.ca/socialdevelopment/needledisposal.shtml
- If you are interested in having a sharps container installed at your business or in your community, please contact the ASK Wellness Society via phone or text at 778-257-1292 or email ODP433@askwellness.ca
- If you are interested in learning about the Block Watch or Crime Prevention Programs that are available, please visit www.kamloops.ca/crimeprevention or call 250-571-3862.
- To get involved in your community, consider joining or starting a community association. For more information, visit www.kamloops.ca/socialdevelopment/communityassociations.shtml or call 250-828-3582.
Jen Casorso, Social and Community Development Supervisor
City of Kamloops