Neighbours to Kelowna’s new COVID-19 testing facility voice concerns

Residents of the quiet, largely residential neighbourhood a block off of Ethel Street and Cadder Avenue were surprised to learn that they’ve got a new neighbour: a COVID-19 testing site.

“These people have set up a highly infectious testing zone across the street from my house without even confronting anybody in the neighborhood. They didn’t put out any warning flyer saying, ‘Hey, there’s going to be a testing site here’,” neighbour Chris Blomquist said.

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Many nearby residents said they thought they should have been given the heads up.

“I am a little upset that they didn’t notify the neighborhood before they brought this in,” neighbour Charlotte Halldorson said.

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Nearby resident Kim Kershaw said that many people walk small children or their dogs on the street and is worried the site will get busier as cold and flu season hits.

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“The biggest concern with this street is the extra traffic,” she said.

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With two medically-vulnerable children, Blomquist said he doesn’t want to live next door to the testing facility and believes it would be better situated in an industrial or commerical area.

“People kind of just park wherever they want, like even in front of my house, and then go over and get tested,” he said.

“This major COVID testing site is across the street from a retirement home and one block away from two preschools,” he said. “The kids walk past it every day to go to school.”

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However, many neighbours didn’t have any objections to the site.

“It’s all gated off. It’s fenced, is clearly labeled and everything. So yeah, I think it’s fine,” neighbour Jordy Babcock said.

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Interior Health said that moving COVID-19 testing from the Urgent and Primary Care Centre on Harvey Avenue to the dedicated site at 2180 Ethel St. will allow the health authority to do more tests in a day.

It also said it will allow the urgent care centre to focus on same-day patient services.

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“We regret if this has raised neighbourhood concerns and apologize to the neighbours for any inconvenience that may occur,” spokesperson Karl hardt said in an email.

“We will urge the public to park in designated areas only, drive safely, and do what they can to reduce concerns for the neighbourhood,” he added.

Interior Health said it has also hired a parking attendant for the initial operational period.

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