Protests outside open house to for supportive housing proposal in Kelowna

Nearly four per cent of eligible B.C. voters have mailed in their ballots in the provincial electoral reform referendum.

Residents have until the end of the month to send in ballots that will determine whether future provincial elections will be run with the current first-past-the-post system, or a form of proportional representation.

As of Friday morning, Elections BC had received 121,888 ballots from the 3.29 million eligible voters, or 3.7 per cent.

Across ridings encompassing the Okanagan, Boundary-Similkameen and Shuswap, that percentage is slightly more than 6.5 per cent.

Kelowna's three ridings combined have sent in 6.39 per cent of ballots. That works out to 9,395 out of 146,913 eligible ballots returned to date.

KELOWNA – Round two in the fight to house homeless people in Kelowna ended in a standoff last night. Round one started in mid-October when concerned citizens attacked a proposal by B.C. Housing to build a 52-unit housing complex on Agassiz Road south of Orchard Plaza aimed at cutting into the waiting list of 500 people seeking homes. Round three won’t be fought until next year. An open house at the Ramada Hotel last night, Nov. 8, saw picket lines on the sidewalk outside, security guards inside and the proponents extolling the benefits of getting people, who happen to be homeless, into housing that will help them turn their lives around. “It’s the seniors we’re worried about,” said Don Davies, who was holding up a sign that read “Seniors Living in Fear”. “They don’t have a voice. We’re their voice.” Opponents to the project say their neighbourhood is the second densest neighbourhood in Kelowna. They say there is a large number of single senior women who are terrified of having a bunch of drug addicts move into their neighbourhood and B.C. Housing is hiding the fact that this is a “wet” facility, meaning people who live there can drink alcohol or take drugs inside the building. They add there is a desperate need for more supportive housing for seniors, which is part of B.C. Housing’s mandate. Inside the Ramada, there was a security guard to “escort” visitors to the meeting room. He said that is normal procedure but some others pointed out that people could not come onto a private property carrying signs. There was other security staff in and around the meeting room, which had more than a dozen display boards around the walls and tables for people to provide written feedback. The display boards dealt with property values, the Journey Home homeless strategy, floor and site plans, support services and who will live there. Just as the protesters said, there was nothing about it being a “wet” facility but plenty of people to say that term isn’t used any more, although one board member mentioned staff would be on site to assist people in “stabilizing” – a term sometimes used by workers in the homelessness field to refer to people trying to get their addictions under control. There was no written mention of the building having a safe injection site with overdose kits available with staff to supervise the injections. “People (attending the open house) were primarily concerned with people doing drugs in the building,” said Gaelene Askeland, executive director of the John Howard Society that will manage the facility if this project goes ahead. “It’s a harm reduction building. Some residents will have addiction challenges.”