Housing tops city needs
Castanet, Wayne Moore Sep 23, 2020
The City of Kelowna continues to make social issues a top priority. Specifically, finding suitable housing for people with complex needs. That topic was front and centre during virtual meetings between Mayor Colin Basran and several provincial ministers last week. The face-to-face meetings are traditionally held during the annual Union of BC Municipalities convention which began Tuesday, but were scheduled the week prior this year. Basran says he discussed that issue in a joint meeting with both the Minister of Housing and the minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "There were two things, one to continue funding for supportive housing projects, but the bigger topic was how we are going house people with complex needs, who are not well enough to move into supportive housing projects," said Basran. "On the social issues front, that is our top priority." Basran says these are people with mental health and addiction issues, brain injuries or fetal alcohol syndrome who have been forced onto city streets. "Often times there's little to no chance of rehabilitation, but they still deserve a place to live, and supports. "Those are the people who get the most attention on our streets, and who residents see as not being helped, and wonder why nothing is being done. It's because their needs are so complex they can't just go into a supportive housing project." He said he had hoped to have Health Minister Adrian Dix on the call because they mayor believes those individuals will require supports from the health ministry as well.
"That was also a topic of conversation with the premier, because we need the health ministry onboard when it comes to helping those with complex needs." Basran says the topic of winter and cold weather shelters was not discussed, because those talks are already underway at the staff level. He says they are discussing site identification and service providers and, while there is no news to report, Basran says they are further along in the process than they were at this time last year.