Kamloops & District Chamber of Commerce News

Policy Resolution- CORE OPERATING PRINCIPLES FOR SOCIAL SERVICE PROVIDERS

Approved by Kamloops & District Chamber of Commerce members at the March 14th Public Policy Debate

Issue:

The pressing social challenges of homelessness, opioid addiction, and mental health crises in British Columbia have demanded swift action from government and service agencies. However, the response has inadvertently led to negative community repercussions, stemming from the inadequate operations of certain street-level services. These issues have exacerbated the stigmatization of the displaced population, heightened community concerns regarding safety, and adversely affected the viability of small businesses in affected urban and rural areas. Additionally, this situation has resulted in an inconsistent delivery of services, often failing to effectively meet individual needs and ensure community safety.

Background:

The Kamloops North Shore Business Improvement Area Association (NSBIA) serves as the representative agency for 299 Class 5/6 property owners and approximately 420 commercial business owners situated on Kamloops’ North Shore. Over the past five years, our membership has faced significant challenges stemming from criminal activity, social disruptions, and a deficiency in what we refer to as Community Interface Management principles.

In order to grasp the scope and impact of these issues, we have conducted ongoing surveys of our members since 2018 to assess associated costs and ramifications. In 2022, we expanded our survey initiative to encompass the entirety of Kamloops. Through this concerted effort, we have come to realize that similar issues affect the entire city to varying extents[1].

Issues Affecting Businesses20222023
Loitering / Trespassing107110
Open Drug use106102
Vandalism9498
Needles / Hazardous Waste9686
Defecation (Human Waste)8984
Harassing Actions7982
Drug Dealing7979
Storage of Materials (carts, tents, etc)8179
Theft6973
Graffiti7161

Source: Impacts 2023 Further analysis of the data has distinctly revealed that the majority of respondents to our surveys reside in areas of the city characterized by a high concentration of shelters or street-level services. This observation becomes more pronounced when examining individual street addresses (not provided here),

as it becomes evident that a significant portion of these respondents are located within 1 to 3 blocks of these street-level programs.

Reports
20222023
Downtown6557
North Kamloops5445
Aberdeen412
Valleyview06
Sahali24
Tk’emlups02
Brocklehurst01
Dallas01
Laval Road11
Campbell Creek00
Columbia Street10
Dufferin00
Iron Mask00
Westside00
Victoria St West10

Source: Impacts 2023

When examining other communities, as evidenced by a recent Nanaimo heatmap report[1], it becomes evident that many disruptions are concentrated within specific zones. This observation is not an indictment of operator negligence; rather, it underscores a lack of clarity regarding expectations for managing social programs in relation to community interface and site maintenance.

Between 2018 and the spring of 2023, the NSBIA engaged in numerous discussions with agency leads, government representatives, and members to evaluate the impacts outlined above and identify opportunities for enhancing the operation of social programming. The aim was to diminish stigmatization, enhance the effectiveness of street-level services, and ensure accountability to the community, positioning programming as a positive driver of outcomes for all stakeholders.

It was during these discussions that we formulated the ten core operating principles for managing a shelter or social program site:

  1. The site is a 24/7 facility. The facility operates around the clock, ensuring continuity of support for individuals. Requiring individuals to vacate premises each morning disrupts stability, undermines efforts to connect them with services, and forces them to shelter elsewhere until the facility reopens. This practice often leads to conflicts between local businesses, residents, and individuals seeking refuge in doorways to escape harsh weather conditions. Additionally, it fosters congregations that may contribute to increased criminal activity, substance abuse, and other undesirable behaviors due to the anonymity of group settings.
  2. The site is a contained site. The facility is enclosed within a fenced perimeter, providing a contained environment that is separated from the surrounding community. This offers a semi-secure space where individuals can store their belongings, such as carts, within a designated parking area. However, it necessitates ongoing monitoring to prevent the establishment of entrenched encampments and unauthorized sheltering outside the premises.
  3. The site must be a wet site. The facility operates as a wet site, meaning supervised drug consumption and testing services are available around the clock. To ensure safety and access to essential services, health authority and/or agency representatives must be present onsite 24/7 to monitor drug use and facilitate connections to detoxification and other treatment options.
  4. Housing placement supports are onsite. The facility offers onsite support for housing placement, aligning with the principles of the “4 pillars” model for promoting healthy outcomes. Emphasizing access to stable housing, the facility provides comprehensive wrap-around services to encourage and facilitate the transition to permanent housing solutions.
  5. Mental Health supports available. Mental health support services are readily accessible onsite to address the complex needs of individuals experiencing homelessness. These services include situational counseling, psychiatric nursing, and PTSD support to assist individuals during crises and promote their overall well-being. 
  6. Site maintenance is constant. Continuous site maintenance is paramount to uphold cleanliness and minimize negative impacts such as clutter and litter. Maintaining a clean environment contributes to a safer and more welcoming atmosphere for both patrons and the surrounding community.
  7. Staffing or Security onsite 24/7. Adequate staffing or security presence is maintained onsite 24/7 to ensure patron safety, promptly address disruptions, and implement appropriate measures in case of escalating situations.
  8. Community Interface Management is entrenched. Community interface management strategies are integrated into the operational framework to mitigate the impact of the facility on the surrounding area. Regular patrols extending at least 75 meters from the site direct individuals to the facility while managing any resulting impacts through proactive maintenance of the interface zone.
  9. Reputable Operators Required. Operators selected to manage the facility must demonstrate a track record of operating robust sites and a commitment to collaborating with the broader community to address emerging issues effectively.
  10. Placement off Commercial Corridors. Priority is given to locating facilities away from primary commercial and transportation corridors. Instead, sites are situated in areas with adequate access to transportation and essential services necessary for the facility’s operation and the well-being of its participants. This strategic placement minimizes negative impacts on the business community, reduces stigmatization, and enhances overall effectiveness.

The Chamber Recommends

That the Provincial Government:

  1. Implement as swiftly as possible a new delivery expectations framework for social program operators which follow the ten principles outlined in the background section of this document.
  2. Establish a local oversight group or protocol system to ensure that issues raised by community are addressed in a manner that leads to higher levels of support and resolves issues that negatively impact the community.

Submitted by the Kamloops North Shore Business Improvement Area Association

Supported by Kamloops Chamber of Commerce


[1]   https://globalnews.ca/news/10308843/nanaimo-bc-group-fatal-overdose-numbers/


[1] https://nsbia.com/impacts-2023-results-page/

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