A 40-bed homeless shelter will open soon in West Kelowna after council on Tuesday unanimously endorsed the proposal from BC Housing.

Four mobile office trailers are to be moved onto a vacant lot near the corner of Westlake Road and Stevens Road. The shelter, where residents will also receive food, will remain open until April.

Council’s approval came despite opposition expressed in dozens of letters and in the form of an 800-plus-name online petition. Councillors said no location would be perfect, and they said the need to help the homeless was urgent.

B.C.’s minister of social development and poverty reduction got a visit from advocates Monday morning who say they want to see policy changes rather than so-called Band-Aid solutions in the province’s efforts to address poverty.

A group from the Poverty Free Action Team, an initiative with the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, delivered a gift box to MLA Shane Simpson’s office in Vancouver Monday complete with items aimed to represent what they’re calling for.

“Around this time of year, Canadians are encouraged to donate to support people living in poverty,” said Viveca Ellis, interim community organizer at the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, in a news release.

“The best gift that would truly keep on giving is sustainable support in the form of comprehensive policy change and significantly increased investments through TogetherBC that will improve people’s lives year-round and help lift them out of poverty.”

It seems B.C. Housing, not wanting to face further opposition from Kelowna residents, just sat idle.

That means, for another week or so, 40 homeless people will have to continue sleeping in tents in the snow and cold. Once the Fuller Avenue facility is filled, there will be a clearer picture of how much shelter space is still needed.

While some people are still looking for more shelter space, it’s not clear what B.C. Housing is doing on that front.

Some residents and businesses around Stevens Road in West Kelowna feel they were blindsided by a proposal by BC Housing to place a temporary winter shelter in their neighbourhood.

BC Housing announced last Friday it would be applying to the city for a temporary use permit to set up the homeless shelter at 1160 Stevens Rd.

Area resident Shannon Gallivan said the news took the neighbourhood by surprise. She said letters had been sent out by BC Housing, but they didn’t arrive before the announcement.

“I didn’t hear about it until Friday, when you guys posted an article. Nobody knew, not even the neighbourhood residents because these (letters) went out in the mail,” she said.

She said the approach was not inclusive.

Gallivan questions the location, a mainly industrial area devoid of any services the homeless would need on a daily basis.

“We need it, we understand that, but the location is not appropriate,” said Gallivan.

As the weather turns cold, there is nowhere to go for those experiencing homelessness in the Oceanside region.

A cold weather shelter was initially proposed for the 52-unit supportive housing complex known as Orca Place, which officially opened earlier this year on Corfield St.

However, the shelter component was removed once Parksville city council spent roughly $500,000 repaying a grant from the regional district who had required a winter shelter at the site.

At the time, Robin Campbell with the Manna Homeless Society felt it was a bad idea. Now, he told NanaimoNewsNOW it should have been considered a criminal idea.

What happens to one of the world’s poorest places if you randomly pick more than 10,000 poor families out of an eligible pool and give them $1,000 each, no strings attached?

Dozens of studies have already shown conclusively that just handing very poor people a considerable sum of cash can transform their lives in lasting ways. That is hardly surprising. But this study set out to ask a different question: What about their neighbors?