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On Thursday, footage of bylaw officers dumping mattresses, tents and other items belonging to the homeless population caused a stir on social media.
“All of this stuff, one bin, two bin, a mat a tent, another bin with a mat and bed, people’s personal belongings … all going to the dump,” says Derek Foreel in the video he posted to Facebook.
“They just deem it all garbage. But is it? No, perfectly usable items for anyone.”
Foreel later shouts at the officers “You’re not even going through it looking for personal effects as you said you would.”
According to Community Safety Director Darren Caul, the bylaw officers in the video are going through standard procedures implemented at the temporary shelter off Recreation Avenue.
“We have created a system where people on the site are able to fill two large recycling bins with their items put their name on the bins and check them into a secure sea can,” said Caul to KelownaNow.
“If those materials are not reclaimed for 72 hours, the materials are deemed abandoned and disposed of.”
Caul says officers have been removing a daily average of 800 pounds of material not reclaimed after 72 hours at the shelter site.
Due to the overwhelming amount of materials, Caul says officers are unable to go through every bag but are on the lookout for items that potentially carry sentimental value.
If a sentimental item like a photo is discovered in the abandoned material, it’s stored off-site for a 30-day period for pick up.
However, Foreel maintains that officers are often not waiting a full 72 hours and are almost never on the lookout for sentimental items.
He also says once the abandoned items go into the trailer there’s no chance to retrieve them.
According to Kelowna's director of safety, the abandoned items cannot be reused due to health and safety hazards.
Next week, a 40-bed indoor shelter space is set to open at 555 Fuller Ave, however, it's unclear how many people currently staying at the temporary outdoor shelter will make the move.