The City of Kamloops is looking at whether it has a larger role to play when it comes to offering warming centres for Kamloops’ homeless population during cold spells.
Community and protective services director Byron McCorkell, told council last week the municipality had spoken with social agencies in town to let them know the city will “be at the table” to help support them with their concerns.
“This recent warming centre discussion has always been something that has been handled through social agencies and faith-based entities and we’re now seeing it would appear to be some form of a change there,” McCorkell said, noting the church-based Out of the Cold program is no longer being provided.
“Now who steps up?” he asked.
During the Jan. 21 council meeting McCorkell said the city would be having another meeting with social agencies to discuss what the city’s role, if any, would look like before coming back to council with any request and cost implications.
McCorkell’s comments were in response to a query from Coun. Arjun Singh, who asked if council could discuss whether there is more the city could be doing on the issue of social housing.
Singh noted a sense that, during the cold snap earlier this month, the public has been wanting the city to do more in this area.
“It seems like we’re always the first line of concern that people come to and the province and federal government are a bit distant from that, although they provide most of the money,” Singh said.
McCorkell agreed that the city seems to be brought up as the body of choice to solve some of these issues.
He said plenty of work is being done on the file through the municipality’s social planning group and housing committees, but noted at the end of the day, the municipality is seeing more fingers being pointed its way.
“And, quite frankly, we don’t know exactly what to do with them, but they are pointing our way,” he told council.
McCorkell believes he will ultimately come back to council with a request to raise the issue at this September’s annual Union of BC Municipalities convention.
Mayor Ken Christian noted he is in a variety of discussions with provincial representatives when it comes to the issue and cautioned against the city assuming responsibility in an area the province is much better suited to handle in terms of money and mandate.