British Columbia

Kelowna shelter searching for new space before cold hits

Inn from the Cold is one of two shelters set to close within the year. Executive director Jan Shultz says that while it has been a struggle to find a space, she is hopeful they will find a solution before the cold weather hits in November.

Inn from the Cold received an eviction notice this week from the owner of the building who wants to redevelop

Inn from the Cold is still looking for a new location in which to operate its winter shelter. (Inn from the Cold-Kelowna/Facebook)

One of Kelowna's three main shelter operators is struggling to find a new space for the 43 beds they offer to the city's most vulnerable.

Inn from the Cold received a notice to vacate the premises by Sept. 30, 2018 because the owner of the building wants to redevelop.

Jan Schultz, executive director of Inn from the Cold, says the search for a space is nothing new.

"I have been working with the organization for three and a half years and I've been looking since basically day one for another location … no luck," Shultz said.

But Shultz says she is hopeful they will find a space before the cold hits in November.

"I just appeal to Kelowna," Shultz said.

"We have always worked on the philosophy that one day we will work ourselves out of a job and there will be permanent housing for all, but until that time we do need a shelter, so we're looking for a temporary location."

A case of NIMBYism?

Meanwhile, this week the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce issued a statement urging city council to consider relocating shelters out of the downtown core. Inn from the Cold isn't in the core, but Shultz said she wouldn't rule out any space as an option.

"We have always been away from downtown. A lot of our guests and clientele don't want to necessarily be downtown, so I would be happy to not be in the core."

And while Shultz says that the city is working to find solutions through their Journey Home Housing Strategy, she says many people don't necessarily want a shelter around them.

"Lets not be naive enough to think that NIMBY doesn't exist."

2 shelters closing within the year

Inn from the Cold isn't the only shelter slated to close in the near future. The Cornerstone shelter — which has 80 beds operated by the John Howard Society — was originally opened as a temporary winter shelter in November of 2017 and is slated to close at the end of March 2019.

It's a move that Shultz says was expected, but one that will have a great impact on the community.

"Come spring of next year,  If the situation hasn't changed with regard to temporary or permanent housing, then Kelowna is really going to see a crisis in action."

With files from Daybreak South

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