No deal yet with landlord on one of two day spaces for homeless in Kamloops

·3 min read

One of two temporary day spaces for the homeless remains unopened in Kamloops, more than a month after the city announced their creation through local social agencies.

The Gathering Place, located in the downtown parking lot of the city’s storage facility for the homeless, at 48 Victoria St W., and Envision, at 346 Campbell Ave. in North Kamloops, were announced by the municipality on July 21.

City social, housing and community development manager Carmin Mazzotta told KTW at the time the spaces were projected to open in a week, but the Gathering Place didn’t open until Aug. 16, while Envision has yet to do so.

Mazzotta said the non-profits running the North Shore space have yet to finalize a lease for 346 Campbell Ave. with the landlord.

Asked what was left to work out with the North Shore location, Mazzotta said he could not comment.

Envision is to be operated by a coalition of the Canadian Mental Health Association, ASK Wellness Society, Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society and Interior Community Services in the vacant, privately owned former liquor store property behind the Northbridge Hotel.

CMHA executive director Alfred Achoba told KTW in early August they were on track to open Envision by about mid-August.

KTW was awaiting a call back from Achoba as of press deadline on Tuesday.

Mazzotta said that while the Envision day space isn’t open yet, the shuttle bus component, which would transport willing homeless individuals from 346 Campbell Ave. to shelters at the end of each day, is up and running.

He confirmed the city and CMHA non-profits still endeavour to open the space.

Asked when the Campbell Avenue location might be operational, Mazzotta said he could not provide a date.

“That’s between the non-profit and the person who owns the site,” he said. “The downtown one was a little more straightforward because we [the City of Kamloops] own the site.”

The Gathering Place — operated by the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society and The Mustard Seed — has been open a little more than two weeks, and, Mazzotta said, in that time there have been “no major issues to report there at this point.”

He said he has heard positive reviews from the non-profits involved, noting the city will monitor its progress in the weeks and months ahead to determine the potential for more day spaces in 2022.

The two day spaces were granted federal funding from the Reaching Home grant, which the city distributes, to staff the day spaces for four months.

Asked if the North Shore’s Envision day space will still run for four months whenever it may open, Mazzotta said that is to be determined and could depend on timing.

“These spaces are daytime spaces for people to be in and if that’s getting too deep in to winter, it might not be something that continues on for that full four months, but I think those things can be worked out. There’ll be some flexibility there,” Mazzotta said.

Prior to opening, and while operational, the CMHA will meet with the McDonald Park Neighbourhood Association — as it did earlier this summer — to address any concerns, Mazzotta said.

The neighbourhood association recently surveyed residents to gather their thoughts on the project and found 65 per cent of 181 respondents do not support the Envision project on Campbell Avenue, citing concerns over potential increases in garbage and drug paraphernalia and property crime in the surrounding neighbourhood.

Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week

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