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People at the City of Kelowna are responding to a jab from federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre.
Poilievre took to Twitter with an embedded TikTok video showing the encampment along the rail trail as an example of the failures of his political opponents.
"These images are not from a faraway third-world country," wrote the leader of Canada's official opposition. "This is Kelowna.
After eight years of Trudeau & the NDP."
These images are not from a faraway third-world country.— Pierre Poilievre (@PierrePoilievre) May 30, 2023
This is Kelowna.
After eight years of Trudeau & the NDP. pic.twitter.com/Oj9M2WtujO
With Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas in transit from Toronto, Kelowna's Community Safety Director Darren Caul spoke on behalf of the city today.
"I won't delve into the politics, but what I will say is it's really unfortunate," said Caul.
"It's unfortunate because it fails to show all the good work that's occurring behind the scenes. It fails to show the true and accurate picture of Kelowna."
The Community Safety Director went on to point out the central role Kelowna has had in advancing new approaches such as the integrated courts, complex care and Kelowna's made-at-home Journey Home strategy.
"Kelowna is leading the way," said Caul.
The city has responded to the problem in recent months with a kinder and gentler approach.
A policy of forcing campers to pack up each morning has been abandoned.
City Councillor Mohini points out that she speaks for herself on this issue, but she's also calling Poilievre's comments "unfortunate".
"It's a bit unfair," said Singh. "This is an issue that has impacted municipalities right across the country. We're not alone in this."
Caul makes the same point.
"Kelowna is not unique in this respect," he said. "Communities across the country are grappling with the very issues that we are here."
Still, Singh believes that as disappointing as Poilievre's comments are, some good could come of this.
"It does shine a light on a very serious situation," said Singh. "And maybe it will draw the attention of the federal government."
And the city's spokesperson on the topic agrees with that also.
"If this TikTok video should illuminate this issue for all orders of government and advance this very complex and urgent issue," said Caul, "Then that will be a positive."
As of early May as many as a hundred people were using the tenting area each night.
That number is expected to grow with the summer weather.