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VIDEO: Advocates push for purpose-built shelter, not mat programs

"It's insane," said Patricia Bacon, who heads up the John Howard Society in Kelowna.

"We need to stop talking about it, only when it's -17", she said. "We need to be talking about it all the time."

Bacon said Kelowna needs to create purpose-built shelter space for people experiencing homelessness, and it needs to do it now.

"The temporary mat programs? That's not doing the trick anymore. And it never really did. It's not really a solution."

She said people are well aware of the need for it, but it's not happening.

"This town is a wealthy town, there's a lot of money here. What's our problem? What's going on?"

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

The vision is to get away from hastily arranged spaces in some unused building somewhere.

"We need shelters that are thoughtfully, intentionally designed."

And after a series of supportive housing projects were built in Kelowna, Bacon doesn't see anything on the horizon.

"We need to keep developing housing, she said. "We can't say, okay we built six housing first building and call it good. Okay, done."

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

While housing is considered an area of provincial responsibility, Bacon believes the first step toward a purpose-built shelter is local.

"You need to have the political will to say 'We're identifying this piece of land and we're setting it aside for a purpose-built shelter."

She understands that there will be push-back, but she is certain the majority of people would actually support it.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

"Those folks need to champion this, with us," she said.

She followed that up with a reference to the newly elected mayor.

"Let's ask Tom," Bacon said.

There's no doubt that will happen in the weeks ahead.

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