Work is still underway to find a suitable location for a winter shelter for those experiencing homelessness in Oliver. But a shelter won’t be open for this cold snap.
At the Feb. 8 Oliver town meeting, councillors heard feedback on the proposed use of Oliver United Church and other possible locations it could go.
The feedback included comments from the Dec. 3, 2020 public meeting with the Church and the Desert Sun Counselling & Resource Centre, on the proposal.
Out of the responses that city staff received, 31 of 64 opposed the shelter. Safety was the top concern.
Among the online feedback the city received, concerns of response time and limited policing, theft, and the proximity to nearby schools and residences were top of the list.
Many responses suggested alternative locations, from the Air Cadet to the old library on Station St., and even to an empty retail location downtown.
Following the feedback, staff reached out to the Oliver Elks Club, Oliver Legion, the owner of 6239 Station Street and the owner of 6018 Main Street. The Elks and Legion noted they couldn’t currently house the shelter, but offered their support for it.
The owner of 6239 Station Street offered his support for housing the shelter, in exchange for operating the property as a hostel or hotel through the rest of the year. The last property owner did not respond to the city.
Building code and parking requirements would have to be considered, and the floor plan was passed on to Desert Sun.
Desert Sun is seeking a three-year temporary use permit to run the shelter seasonally from Nov. 1 to March 30 out of the United Church.
The permit would allow a maximum of 10 beds and one metal storage container to hold people’s personal belongings.
There are currently no shelter beds or housing units for people who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness, according to the town’s 2020 housing needs report.
That report also said that there were an estimated 50 youth ‘couch surfing’ from house to house as of Dec. 2019, as well as 32 to 40 people who ar are homeless or living in trailers, vehicles and tents in Oliver.
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