Mayor Colin Basran met with Kelowna’s leaders of the social services sector over coffee Wednesday morning at The Bridge Youth & Family Services to further engage in discussions about how to strengthen the community.
The informal meeting was a continuation of a conversation held during the recent municipal election on how to support the community’s disenfranchised and promote Kelowna’s diversity, compassion and inclusion.
Housing continues to be at the forefront of discussions. With funding for the Cornerstone emergency shelter set to end in 2019, establishing help for people who access this service and continuing to assist people access housing will be at the top of the priority list.
Discussions also focused on how to support newcomer families in the community, and how to help those new to Kelowna access resources to meet their basic needs and overcome the cultural and language barriers they may face.
Another major need identified by the community leaders is to improve the depth of services available in Kelowna. Long waitlists and barriers to access service are identified as gaps for those seeking needed resources.
“The services we have in Kelowna are some of the best I’ve seen in the country,” said Celine Thompson, Executive Director of The Bridge Youth & Family Services. “They are truly exceptional, but we don’t have enough. We’re too thin on the ground, we’re getting tapped.”
Basran suggested making this a bi-annual event and the group will reconvene in about six months’ time to assess priorities for Kelowna’s social services. The timing will allow the development Kelowna City Council’s priorities, which can then be discussed further with the leaders of the social services community.