The lineup for flu shots was five people deep, the industrial-sized barbecue was rolled into place in the middle of Spirit Square and the crowd was relaxed and unhurried.
Many had nowhere to go. They have no home.
Several carried telltale black backpacks with lime-green zippers — backpacks that had been handed out by volunteers seeking out homeless people around town earlier in the day.
Project Homeless Connect put homeless people in touch with the agencies that can help them, as well as with a hot meal, Friday afternoon at Spirit Square.
Richard Todd and his buddy Roland Paul were on the sidelines, waiting for the barbecue to begin.
Todd, 51, came to Kamloops a few years ago from Williams Lake. He said he’s been on the streets “too long;” those days were often filled with drinking and smoking.
He has a place of his own now, and he said he’s a happy camper.
Paul isn’t so lucky. He’s staying with a friend for now. He came from Anaheim Lake two years ago to work with wild horses in the Deadman Creek area.
Sleeping outside is becoming a cold prospect these days.
“It’s all right as long as you don’t drink that much,” he said.
Finding meals in Kamloops is easy; the hard part is finding a warm place to live. The shelters are often full — more of them would be good, Paul said.
Nearby, Glenn Stecyk was slowly putting on a hoodie after getting a flu shot.
He’s been living in a camp by the river but he’s thinking about going to Edmonton. His mom, who recently died, lived there and there’s no one to take care of her house, he said.
His days on the street involve looking for beer cans to make enough money to survive.
Welfare doesn’t pay enough for shelter and it’s getting too cold to sleep outside, Stecyk said.
“Back to Alberta — that’s my only option.”
While the majority of the homeless gathered at Spirit Square were men, Kira Haug from ASK Wellness said she’s seeing an increase in the number of women living on the streets.
“I’m seeing a lot more women than before,” she said.
“I’m personally working with a handful of women who identify as homeless.”
Anecdotally, it appears as though the number of homeless people in Kamloops is on the rise, Haug said.
She suspected the numbers went up during the summer, when it was warm enough to camp out, and now the homeless are facing colder weather.
The annual homeless count wasn’t done this year because it isn’t scientific and it can be hard to find people living on the street because they move around throughout the day.
Haug said there was a group of people in a camp in an area that bylaw officers had earlier cleared out. They quickly returned and set up all over again.
“We need more low-income housing,” she said.