Despite the plunging temperatures of last week’s cold snap, the Town of Oliver is still no closer to getting a winter shelter.
An offer to set up a shelter was discussed with town staff, but the property owner later retracted his offer.
The owner of the former library building at 6239 Station St. offered the use of the building for a shelter. The offer, detailed in a report to council, also requested permission to operate the property as a hostel or hotel through the rest of the year.
The offer was retracted before the Feb. 8 council meeting.
During the cold snap, the Seventh Day Adventist Churches in Oliver and Osoyoos opened their doors to the homeless. With the cold snap fading, those who had taken shelter in the churches will once again be out on the streets.
Oliver’s council voted, with Coun. Dave Mattes opposing, to table further discussion on the shelter until a committee had met and developed a plan for it. Council requested the committee’s plan include staffing, management and RCMP involvement for the shelter.
Had the motion been voted down outright instead of tabled, council would have had to wait six months before discussing the issue further or voting on it again.
Oliver currently has no housing for those experiencing homelessness, and neither does Osoyoos, which had the need identified in their recently completed housing study.
Desert Sun Counselling and Resource Centre is seeking approval to use the Oliver United Church as a winter shelter for 10 beds from Nov. 1 to March 30 for three years.
The town of Oliver’s 2020 Housing Needs report noted that there were an estimated 50 youth ‘couch surfing’ from house to house as of December 2019, as well as 32 to 40 people who ar are homeless or living in trailers, vehicles and tents in Oliver.
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