'Small tent city' proposed for former golf course

'Small tent city' proposed for former golf course

The future of the McArthur Island golf course in Kamloops, B.C., is still unknown, but a new idea has been added to the mix: turn the former golf course into a space for the homeless.

It's been suggested the space be turned into a nature education park, a disc golf course, or even both. Now, a new proposal is advocating a "tiny home park for homeless people."

Eric Redekop, who is homeless himself, said a small "tent city" would help the city manage homelessness in Kamloops.

"It's a big space and we have a big [homelessness] problem, and I think the two of them can go together," he said.

In November 2017, a former elementary school in downtown Kamloops was turned into a temporary homeless shelter. Though the shelter has been full most nights since it opened, homeless people in other parts of town are sleeping outside, because it is too difficult to make the trek to the shelter.

Redekop said the site at McArthur Island already has power and water access so showers, laundry and washrooms could be hooked up.

If the space were to be set up as a homeless camp and the homelessness issue were to be solved, the space could be used as an urban campground, which could generate revenue for the city, Redekop said. 

The City of Kamloops took over the lease on the golf course in mid-October 2017 after its owner decided not to renew his lease, citing flood damage and growing tournament action on the island as reasons for his decision.

Shortly after, the city asked for public input on the future of the golf course through open houses and a survey, which parks planner Michael Doll said garnered more than 1,300 responses.

Doll is going through the responses now, and said he will present his findings to city council in a "few weeks."

With files from Doug Herbertand Tara Copland