Julie Bertles 0

Homeless in Kelowna

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I am writing to object to the proposed adoption of Bylaw No. 11214, Amendment #28 to Traffic Bylaw No. 8120

By adopting Bylaw No. 11214, Amendment #28 to Traffic Bylaw No. 8120, the City of Kelowna is knowingly making the lives our most vulnerable citizens that much more of a hardship. Being homeless is a direct result of not being able to afford permanent housing, and to fine people money because they can’t afford to stay anywhere is only putting these people further back. Instead of supporting the most vulnerable members of our society - many of whom have or are dealing with issues such as mental health, abuse and/or addiction – we are sending the message that they are a nuisance and we don’t want to have to deal with them or support them, and by fining these people $50 per night for being caught seeking refuge from the elements we are sending the message that we would rather them pack up and leave Kelowna all together and make them another municipalities burden to deal with, such as Penticton, West Kelowna, Vernon, ect.

While I can understand the concern of local businesses whose entrances often double as shelter from the harsh weather conditions at night, the fact of the matter is that these people have absolutely nowhere else to go. A recent poll conducted by the Central Okanagan Foundation confirmed that at least 233 people in Kelowna are currently homeless, and there are only approximately 90 shelter beds available within city limits. I believe that it is unfair to make it an offense to be caught living in the streets while we as a community cannot provide adequate alternative arrangements

I urge council to consider alternative avenues for the use of funding allocated to implement the adoption of Bylaw No. 11214, Amendment #28 to Traffic Bylaw No. 8120, such as budgeting for an increase in funding positions of support and relief workers to be actively on the front line providing resources, education and support, an increase in funding to provide to full 233 shelter beds to accommodate our homeless population, or an increase of funding of programs and foundations such as the Kelowna Gospel Mission, Kelowna Community Food Bank and Inn From the Cold, that are working to make sure every citizen in Kelowna has their basic human needs met – food, water and shelter.

Thank you for your time and consideration of the signatures appearing below,

Julie Bertles

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