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Riverside residents clarify their opposition to new Trail shelter

Letter from Clarence Doherty
Trail council agreed to a one-term for BC Housing to relocate the downtown shelter to this Riverside Avenue property. Photo: Jim Bailey

There seems to be a misunderstanding or misconception of our presentation to council on Aug.21, 2023 and we’d like the opportunity to clarify our position.

Regarding the construction of a homeless shelter at 2039 Riverside Ave., we’re not saying “Oh they’re dangerous people, they’re going to leave needles in the park, a homeless shelter isn’t the right fit for kids utilizing Sanctuary.” (Sanctuary Pre-Teen Centre is located nearby on Bay Avenue.)

Photo: Jim Bailey

Rather than that, the riversiders presented a constitutional style challenge based on the right to security of person.

What we have presented in the riversiders area is a “box canyon” style environment with only one way in and the same way out.

This situation was created in the City of Trail in 2010 when they chose to close off our secondary access/exit route, the “old bridge.”

On Aug.21 we presented a formal document to council outlining our concerns resultant of that “box canyon” effect in conjunction with pre-existing health and safety hazards in the riverside area.

We emphasized that our biggest fear was the hillside, conducive to West Kelowna style fire.

We voiced our concern that the measure of unsafeness could increase exponentially to an acceptable level as a result of authorized and unauthorized use of the area — caused by doubling or tripling of the area’s population — such as we would expect with the opening of a 25 bed shelter at 2039 Riverside Ave.

We requested that city council quash the temporary use application or, in lieu of that, put the decision on hold until they has an independent body conduct a proper safety audit confirming or disputing our assessment.

We maintain that this was not an unreasonable request, that council acted in a rash manner, and we feel the temporary use permit should be rescinded.

We said then and reiterate now, “This shelter is not life or death emergency requiring immediate construction. Safety for all concerned has to be the first priority.”

Thank you,

Clarence Doherty