Two-day spaces created for the Kamloops homeless community


Local nonprofits are opening two daytime hangouts for the homeless, on West Victoria Street in downtown and on Tranquille Road in North Kamloops, for the next four months.

The spaces – dubbed The Gathering Place for the downtown location and Envision in North Kamloops – have received short-term facility permits from the City of Kamloops.

The South Rim location will be operated by the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society (KAFS) and The Mustard Seed in the parking lot on the west side of the city’s KAFS-run homeless storage facility at 48 Victoria St .

Envision will be operated by a coalition of the Canadian Mental Health Association, ASK Wellness Society, KAFS and Interior Community Services (ICS), providing day space at 346 Campbell Ave., which is the former private liquor store. vacant located behind the Northbridge Hotel.

Kamloops City Social Development, Housing and Community Development Officer Carmin Mazzotta said the two sites are expected to open in about a week.

“It’s that safe place where people can go where they can relax and get water, maybe connected to services and not feel like they are being moved or loitering,” Mazzotta said. .

Both sites will have tables, tents and chairs set up for individuals in the parking lots and will be managed by a pair of outreach workers and a program coordinator.

Gathering Place downtown will be open from noon to 8 p.m., seven days a week and cleaned nightly after closing. Envision will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, with a shuttle service providing transportation to the shelters when the site closes each evening. The site will be maintained and cleaned every evening.

Mazzotta said the Campbell Avenue space in North Kamloops will be fenced off to control access and the building used for access to water and washrooms.

The Gathering Place downtown will essentially act as an extension of the services available at the warehousing facility. Homeless people are known to congregate in a no-stroll zone on the east side of the building where the day space will be located. In March, a security guard patrolling the location was involved in an altercation with a homeless man when he refused to leave the area after 5 p.m.

The day spaces came together thanks to the non-profit organizations applying for the Reaching Home: Canadian Homelessness Strategy grant from the federal government to fund The Gathering Place.

There was similar interest in continuing a similar project on the North Shore, Mazzotta said, noting that the funding setup for Envision is still being worked out, but that it could use some of the Reaching Home funds. .

The North Shore location is a few yards from The Loop Visitor Center at 405A Tranquille Rd. The Visitor Center has served as a space for the city’s homeless, but has been the subject of many complaints related to it. the gathering of people, the consumption of drugs and the garbage left behind. The City of Kamloops has considered the address to be harmful property.

The Loop is currently cutting services after failing to secure sufficient funding from this federal grant program, which goes through the municipality.

Mazzotta told KTW that the new day spaces are not intended to replace The Loop.

“It’s about providing day spaces that are well run and managed by reputable and established nonprofits in the city,” Mazzotta said.

He said there were some differences between the new spaces and The Loop, noting the level of site management and the supports available, but stressed that their creation is not a comparison to the Visitor Center as the spaces were an identified need and there was an opportunity to provide them with funding.

He said the need had been identified by the Reaching Home Advisory Board, city council, social service agencies and the community at large – that the city’s homeless people needed a place to go during the day. .

One of the perks of the North Shore space, Mazzotta noted, is its location close to amenities, but less visible from the frontage of Tranquil Street while still providing attendees with privacy.

Both sites will operate until November, when cold weather sets in, but Mazzotta said the Out of the Heat / Out of the Cold program will also co-locate the Campbell Avenue day space during the summer months. ‘winter.

This program previously worked at The Loop.

There will be another round of Reaching Home grant applications this fall and both spaces will be available for funding again in April 2022, Mazotta said.

“By that time, we will have had results to use, lessons learned to review and be able to apply those lessons to all future projects,” Mazzotta said.

Almost half of those identified in the homeless count are Indigenous

The 2021 Reaching Home Point Count conducted on April 15 and 16 of this year identified 222 homeless people in Kamloops. Almost 50 percent of those assessed self-identified as Indigenous – an overrepresentation in the number of Indigenous people who make up about 10 percent of Kamloops residents, according to census data.

These collaborative programs will provide culturally safe spaces and opportunities to apply an Indigenous perspective to connect homeless people with housing and support services, a press release from the City of Kamloops said.

Mazzotta noted that the new day spaces being established downtown and on the North Shore are collaborative efforts between Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations.

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