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January 25, 2023, 8:32 am

City of Kelowna's Thermal Shelters to Share Some Warmth

City of Kelowna
KELOWNA -  The City of Kelowna’s innovative, new thermal shelter pilot initiative will bring warmth to some of the people in the community who are sheltering outside amidst extreme cold.

The City has sourced 20 one-person and seven two-person shelters from a manufacturer in Europe, providing space for as many as 34 Kelowna residents who are sheltering outdoors. These are the only shelters of this kind currently available in Canada. Supply is limited but the City will use those available to support as many people in the community who are sheltering outside in cold weather as possible.

“The thermal shelters are a simple but impressive innovation,” says Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas. “They’re fire resistant, made from three pieces of lined and insulating foam that can be set up in minutes and the air temperature inside can increase 15 to 18 degrees Celsius compared to the outside temperature based on body heat alone. They’re durable, easy to assemble and, while they’re not a solution to homelessness, they’re going to help a lot of Kelowna residents who are sheltering outside.”

Special thanks to BC Housing whose funding has made the thermal shelter initiative possible. City staff have overcome a number of logistical challenges in sourcing the shelters and will work closely with local partners to distribute them to people sheltering outside in Kelowna when temperatures drop.

“The need for housing and shelter continues to exceed demand in Kelowna,” says Community Safety Services Manager Colleen Cornock, “and the thermal shelter initiative is helping to address the immediate need for people sheltering outdoors. They are one part of the City’s extreme cold weather response, which includes availability of an overnight warming bus, distribution of warming supplies, and other emergency, cold weather initiatives.”

The City will lead distribution of the shelters with help from community partners, which will include training on shelter set up, care and maintenance. The timing of distribution will depend on the weather as the thermal shelters will be made available during periods of exceptionally cold weather. People receiving a shelter must use it at the designated, outdoor sheltering site near the intersection of Richter Street and the Rail Trail, and they must agree to return the shelter once weather improves. When extreme cold weather comes to an end, shelters will be collected and prepared for redistribution during the next extreme cold weather event.

The thermal shelter initiative is an innovative, emergency response to cold-weather, outdoor sheltering in Kelowna. It is being introduced on a pilot basis and some logistical specifics are still being developed. The City is confident in the thermal shelters due to the success they have had in communities in Europe and closer to home in Montreal. City employees will monitor and assess the initiative as it is introduced.

For more information about the City’s work to address homelessness and improve social wellness generally, visit

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