A groundbreaking was held on Thursday (Aug. 4) for a new housing project in North Kamloops designed for youth aging out of care.
The province is building 39 units of supportive housing at 560 Tranquille Rd., on a vacant lot located across from Our Lady of Perpetual Help school.
BC Housing is pitching in $13.1 million for new units, which are expected to be completed by late next year, while A Way Home Kamloops will fund the undisclosed cost of the office portion of the building. A Way Home Kamloops will relocate its offices to the North Kamloops site from downtown and will have support staff at Katherine's Place around the clock.
BC Housing director of regional development Tyler Baker said construction will begin soon and the building will open late next year.
He said of 600 affordable supportive housing units in Kamloops, only three per cent are for youth, noting there is demand for this type of housing.
The project is named Katherine’s Place in honour of the late Katherine McParland, who advocated for youth aging out of care. McParland was homeless as a youth and eventually founded A Way Home Kamloops, a non-profit agency dedicated to finding homes for youth on the street. McParland died suddenly in December 2020.
Many people paid their respects to McParland during the groundbreaking. Dayna Chapman previously lived in foster care with McParland and worked with her on blueprints for the project now underway. Chapman said she and McParland had discussed the project.
“I’m so excited that it’s coming to light,” she said.
Nicholas Simons, the province’s minister of social development and poverty reduction, was on hand for the groundbreaking, saying too many people struggle to find housing in B.C.
Kamloops Coun. Dale Bass was there on behalf of the city.
She said that when she worked for Kamloops This Week, she reported on the homeless and recalled finding a young person sleeping in mud.
Bass lauded the new housing.
“This is so important because our housing market is insane. Our rental market is insane,” she said.
Bass said youth homelessness is often hidden, with many young people couch surfing.