By WAYNE MOORE
Kelowna Gospel Mission has partnered with outside agencies to help solve the issue of clutter and congestion along a busy downtown street.
As part of the Mission's new courtyard, a dozen lockers have been constructed, giving clients a place to store shopping carts and other belongings.
The city received numerous complaints in the spring from people who said they had a hard time walking and driving along Leon Avenue due to the numbers of carts, belongings and people.
"It's something we were able to do in partnership with the city and B.C. Housing," said executive director Randy Benson. "In talking with bylaws, they said what if we had some storage. So, we were able to make some space back there."
Benson said it wasn't conceived at the same time as the courtyard, but they do work together.
There are 12 shed-like lockers at the present time. However, Benson said there is space to add more if the demand calls for it.
"We just started using them last Thursday. Over the weekend, I think there were eight being used, and I think this morning there were seven."
The units appear to be large enough to store a cart, or bicycle and belongings.
Benson said the Gospel Mission circulated a questionaire among their clients and the response was extremely positive.
One person who used the space had a meeting to attend at an outside agency and found the ability to store his belongings and attend the meeting quite useful, said Benson.
Benson said in other cities, it's been found that something as simple as cart storage for these people is the first point of stability for them.
"For us, it's another touch point for engagement, to begin building relationships with those people.
"Let them get to know some of our staff and case workers. Introduce people to the supports that are there, to hopefully find them housing and get them off the street."