Building needs maintenance before homeless shelter in Kamloops can open

Out of the Cold executive director Lena Cimmarrusti told KTW last week that the organization continues to await approvals from the city so it can operate out of the Canadian Mental Health Association building at 857 Seymour St.

The City of Kamloops said has conducted building and fire inspections of the Canadian Mental Health Association building at 857 Seymour St. and determined it needs minor maintenance before the Out of the Cold group can move in and operate its seasonal cold weather shelter.

Out of the Cold is waiting to get into the space following delays in finding a location that has left the program without a home so far this winter.

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The city has been helping facilitate finding a new location. City housing and homelessness project manager Ty Helgason said the delay is currently with the CMHA, which he said is “working to meet the requirements of those inspections.

“Once it comes back and says they’ve done it, I’m not sure what the procedure will be,” Helgason said. “I’ll work in collaboration with building officials.”

A timeline is not known.

In response to a neighbourhood resident’s criticism about the new location for the shelter — it was for years previously run out of the St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, downtown at Nicola Street and Fourth Avenue — Helgason said the shelter is not a city project.

Only if the project is funded by the city would an engagement process with neighbours occur, he said. When properties are rezoned, neighbours are invited to attend a public hearing, where they have an opportunity to voice concerns. However, the CMHA property did not require rezoning for the shelter plan, Helgason said.

He said the city emphasizes the importance of communication with neighbours and said the shelter location was released prematurely.

“There were no final decisions made on using the facility for this,” he said. “There were no agreements in place. We hadn’t even had the chance to consider discussions with neighbours or anything like that.”

Out of the Cold executive director Lena Cimmarrusti told KTW last week that the organization continues to await approvals from the city.

It had aimed to open on Sunday, Jan. 5. However, Cimmarrusti said, the kitchen still needs to be licensed by Interior Health and the fire marshall and city planners need to approve property capacity.

Cimmarrusti said that between new and former volunteers, about 40 people have indicated they can lend a hand — enough to begin operating once approvals are in place.

Still, Cimmarrusti said more people will be needed both to volunteer and for hire. Additional volunteer sessions will be held on a monthly basis.

© Kamloops This Week

 


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