KAMLOOPS — The City of Kamloops has announced a number of 'enhancements' to the temporary emergency winter shelter at the former Stuart Wood School.
The shelter opened November 1 and was intended to provide shelter to the city's homeless population. Since the shelter opened, however, a number of concerns have been raised by parents and daycare workers due to needles, feces, and people sleeping on the grounds after the shelter has closed in the morning.
The changes follow a meeting with community stakeholders Friday morning including City staff, School District 73, Interior Health, ASK Wellness, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Interior Community Services.
"Some additional lighting is going in, recognizing there were a few dark spots and given that we're in winter and it's darker now, that lighting was important," says the City's Social and Community Development Supervisor Jen Casorso. "There's some fencing, more just to direct the flow of traffic for winter shelter discharge. Just getting folks to head around the parking lot side of the building to the street to the sidewalk."
In addition to that, she says they plan to put up some additional signage, like other public spaces in the city, to discourage drinking alcohol and to increase the presence of various organizations on site during the day to ensure needle cleanup.
To that end, sharp containers will be installed as well as signage reminding all park users that children play in the area.
So, has the shelter worked out as planned so far this winter?
"Yes, the shelter is operating the way that we anticipated it would. The Canadian Mental Health Association identified yesterday a total of 143 unique individuals since the shelter opened," says Casorso. "It speaks to the volume of our homeless population."
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