Community Service Officers Working with Partners to Support People Living Outdoors and Clean Up Beaches
Kamloops, BC – The City of Kamloops is committed to the safety and well-being of all Kamloops residents. In an effort to balance the needs of residents living outdoors with the safety of the community at large, Community Service Officers have been working with support agencies and the RCMP to provide outreach services to people living in temporary overnight shelters and to clean up unsafe shelter locations.
Community Service Officers regularly monitor locations throughout the city that have a high concentration of temporary shelters to ensure compliance with Parks and Public Lands Bylaw No. 35-66. The purpose of this bylaw is to ensure that all public lands within the city are protected and preserved for all present and future needs and remain accessible to all citizens. It provides rules for when and where temporary overnight shelters are permitted and provides some restrictions to protect the safety of all citizens, including those seeking shelter.
Over the past few weeks, Community Service Officers—with the co-operation of representatives from ASK Wellness, the Canadian Mental Health Association-Kamloops, Interior Community Services, the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society, and the RCMP—have provided outreach to people living rough and removed unsafe and/or abandoned shelters in the following locations:
- Schubert Drive
- Riverside Park (west end)
- North bank of the Thompson River, between Overlanders Bridge and McArthur Island
- Vicars Road
The outreach teams also took the opportunity to remind residents of rising river levels and advise them of acceptable high-water shelter locations. With each interaction, individuals are encouraged to utilize the community resources available to them, including shelter and storage.
“When we attend a camp, we assess each situation to determine the needs of the individual,” said Kevin Beeton, the City’s Community Services Supervisor. “We aim to educate and work with our community partners to connect people with the services available to meet their needs. Enforcement is a tool but not our first or only one.”
If the public has any questions or wish to report a camp, they are encouraged to contact Community Services:
Parks and Public Lands Bylaw No. 35-66 was amended in 2018 to permit overnight sheltering on designated public land. The changes were intended to balance the rights of people experiencing homelessness to access public lands for temporary overnight sheltering, when required, with the City’s obligation to protect, maintain, and enhance public lands for the use of all community members.
The City has a vision for our community where housing is available and affordable across the entire housing continuum, from emergency shelters to entry-level home ownership. While more housing will not eliminate the need for temporary overnight shelters, it may provide options to some people who currently have no other choice but to sleep outdoors.
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