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Time for a new plan

I had so much hope for The Journey Home initiative when it started.

The Journey Home Society was to coordinate the efforts between BC Housing, non-profits, the health authority and the City towards the plan of housing those without homes.

It had high aspirations and involved many great individuals in our community in the crafting of the policy and planning. With an unwavering dedication to achieving "functional zero" homelessness, the society had a vision for our city where people wouldn't be chronically unhoused.

This last week, the City of Kelowna announced that it would not be continuing it’s relationship with the society. With such great vision and aspirations, this seems improbable.

And yet, we need to face the bitter truth: something hasn't worked as it should have. Our parks, alleys, and the rail trail continue to be the dwelling places for many of our unhoused fellow citizens. Despite adding shelter, the number of street entrenched individuals is growing.

As a community, we can’t keep doing the same things, and expect a different result. I commend the Mayor and council for taking the reins and trying something different.

The City has said that there will be a new plan this fall, and is yet to be released. As I see it, there are several key areas that I hope are in the new direction.

Firstly, we need to ensure greater coordination between all levels of government. Kelowna's homeless problem isn't one we can solve in isolation, or without the involvement of the provincial government.

We need strong, unified advocacy from our local, provincial, and federal representatives, who can bring resources and policy changes that will directly benefit our community. Without all levels of government working in unison, our efforts will be fragmented, and their impact reduced.

Secondly, transparency and outcomes-based initiatives should be our guiding principles. We need to clearly understand the initiatives we're undertaking, the outcomes we expect, and how effectively these initiatives are meeting their objectives through reporting.

Openness and honesty in these efforts will build trust in the community and ensure we're channeling our resources where they will make the most difference. It’s difficult when, even the report on the Journey Home Society used by council for their decision, has not been released to the public.

The public needs to know what is being worked on and what the results are to increase accountability.

Lastly, a comprehensive plan is needed, rather than the current less direct process of housing and care.

We need a roadmap that considers not just housing, but also mental health services, addiction treatment, employment support, and community integration. Only by addressing all the facets of homelessness can we hope to create lasting change.

Kelowna’s residents deserve a full system of care.

As we take stock of the situation, it's critical that we acknowledge how our system is failing those that are homeless. By focusing solely on the provision of shelter, we are treating only the symptoms, not the root causes. To truly help our homeless population, we must provide the right solutions for their reintegration into housing and community.

In doing so, we need to remember that every individual living on our streets, in our parks, or on the rail trail, is a person with a unique story, deserving of our empathy, respect, and support.

As we strive for a Kelowna without homelessness, let's ensure our journey home is not just about a physical shelter, but also about the warmth, understanding, and inclusivity of our community.

My question to you is this:

What would you like to see in the City of Kelowna’s new plan to address homelessness?

I love hearing from you and I read every email!

Please email me at or call the office at 250-712-3620.

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