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Memorial Arena will be used as shelter until another location is found by city, BC Housing

The downtown arena has been used as a shelter for the homeless since May 2020. The city is working on alternatives for arena user groups.
Memorial Arena shelter
Alfred Achoba, CMHA Kamloops manager of operations, sets up a bed at Memorial Arena on May 15. 2020.

Memorial Arena will continue to be used as a temporary shelter for the city’s homeless until another shelter location is found.

The city has extended the short-term facility licence with BC Housing.

Memorial Arena has been used as a 30-bed shelter since May 2020, with the Canadian Mental Health Association operating it.

The CMHA had also been running a 40-bed shelter next door at the Kamloops Curling Club since January, but that contract through BC Housing expires on July 31.

More beds will be added to Memorial Arena, which is downtown at 740 Victoria St.

Carmin Mazzotta, the city’s social and community development manager, said the city is working with BC Housing to secure a new location for shelter space.

In addition, the City is also working on alternatives for groups that normally use the arena with and without ice.

The city has been extending the hours at other arenas and looking into using arenas in neighbouring communities, such as Logan Lake and Chase.

“We recognize the hardship this will cause for recreation groups in our community, particularly on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said in a news release.

“To return Memorial Arena to recreational use without an alternative shelter location would result in many people being displaced into unsheltered street homelessness, which is not an option.”

The 2021 Point-in-Time Count, conducted on April 15 and April 16, identified 222 people as being homeless in Kamloops.

The current shelter capacity in Kamloops is 130 beds, leaving more than 90 people with no access to shelter on any given night.