A new City of Kelowna pilot project is wheeling up a warm and safe place for people sheltering outside.
A 24-passenger warming bus will be parked overnight at Kelowna’s designated outdoor sheltering site starting the evening of Dec. 1, when the temperature is expected to drop to -10 C.
“This is a pilot program that has been developed and implemented very quickly,” said Colleen Cornock, community safety services manager. “The City, BC Housing, Central Okanagan Journey Home Society, and other partners are reacting quickly to the falling temperatures and pulling out all the stops to support those who shelter outside.”
The bus is supplied by a third-party contractor with experience providing a similar service in Vernon. It will be parked at the intersection of Richter Street and the Rail Trail, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and will run until the morning of Monday, Dec. 5. A bus driver will be onsite through the night as well as security personnel.
“Obviously, this warming bus program is not a solution to homelessness or shelter needs in Kelowna,” said Stephanie Gauthier, executive director, Central Okanagan Journey Home Society.
“Investments in purpose-built shelters, supportive housing, affordable housing, and other long-term investments that address overall affordability are critical as we look toward a solution to homelessness.”
There is enough funding for the program, provided by BC Housing, to allow it to run for approximately 20 nights. The warming bus will be available as needed beyond the current cold snap and through the winter when temperatures fall.
The program will be assessed, revised, and modified as needed following its first implementation.