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VIDEO: Rules, restrictions and curfews have people choosing the rail trail encampment over shelters

New short-term housing projects in Kelowna were widely seen as a way to curb the growth of Kelowna's overnight sheltering area along the rail trail.

But despite growing vacancies in shelters, individuals experiencing homelessness have been slow to trade in their tents for shelter space.

The City of Kelowna has expressed concern over the issue of "entrenchment" among those living in the encampment.

The issue arose when there was conflict over whether or not rail-trail residents should be permitted to create their own community garden.

Many people who live in Kelowna's tent city, along the Weddell Place section of the rail trail, have experience with shelters and choose to avoid them.

<who> Photo Credit: KelownaNow <who> Mason Mansfield

"There's more freedom here than there is in a shelter," said Mason Mansfield.

"There's strict rules for those places. They're run by security guards."

Rail trail resident Jamie McCormick agrees.

<who> Photo Credit: KelownaNow <who> Jamie McCormick

"Probably because the shelters have rules that people cannot or do not want to follow or adhere to," he said.

Another rail trail resident, Luce, told KelownaNow it was a clean-up rule that caused him grief.

"My room wasn't cleaned by the 6 pm thing, my little cube area on Saturday and I got a 72-hour ban from the shelter and I just never went back," he said.

<who> Photo Credit: KelownaNow <who> Luce

"I ran into the 'I'm an adult, not a kid' conundrum," Luce explained.

Topping the list of unpopular shelter rules seem to be the curfews which limit when people are allowed to come and go.

"We're grown people. At least we try to be," said Blake Mercury. "I'm 35-years-old. I don't think I can adhere to a curfew very well."

<who> Photo Credit: KelownaNow <who> Blake Mercury

"You can't always live the life that you would like to," said McCormick.

Another issue is many people find themselves in a relationship and couples' beds are not easy to find in shelters.

"When you do hear of them wherever they may be, they're never available. They're always taken already," McCormick explained.

<who> Photo Credit: KelownaNow

When a series of provincially funded temporary housing projects were announced last year, it was done with high hopes that it would quickly reduce the number of people sheltering outside.

It turns out, that getting people to transition back into the shelter system is proving more difficult than anticipated.

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