Non-profit struggles to find space to serve soup in Grand Forks, B.C.
Whispers of Hope Benevolence Association says it wants local government to 'step up to the plate'
A non-profit organization in Grand Forks, B.C., is on the hunt for a place to park their new soup-serving trailer, but they say they have no support from local government.
The Whispers of Hope Benevolence Association used to operate a soup kitchen, emergency shelter and thrift store in a city-owned building, but they were evicted last year. At the time, the city cited consistent vandalism and drug use in a nearby camp as some of the reasons for the eviction.
Melissa Shulga, coordinator of Whispers of Hope, says that since then, the association has been trying to find a way to restore services and recently bought a trailer kitchen to serve from. The problem is, they need a place to park it and hook it up to power and water.
"Trying to find a piece of land has been really difficult," Shulga said.
"Unfortunately, we haven't been reaching much response from local government any time we've reached out, tried to have a bit more of a conversation and have them collaborate with us."
She says they wanted to set up temporarily at Dick Bartlett Park, which has a food vending area and is already set up for such operations, but they got pushback from the city for a lot of the same reasons as the previous eviction.
"There's a lot of concerns specifically to do with drug use," she said.
"Of course, we don't just serve the homeless, we actually service quite a multitude of people who might be facing hardships."
But the mayor of Grand Forks, Frank Konrad, says the question that should be asked is: "Do we need a soup kitchen in Grand Forks?" A question he says he nor council can answer.
"The community obviously speaks for itself. If there's no place they're willing to give Melissa and Whispers of of Hope, that question answers itself," Konrad said.
"We would gladly entertain to a degree if there was a reasonable place where they would be willing to set up, but a park? No, absolutely not. That is not a good location."
Listen to the full interview with Melissa Shulga and Frank Konrad:
With files from Daybreak South