BC Housing has proposed that Victory Church shelter at 352 Winnipeg Street in Penticton be extended until March 31, 2022. It was originally intended to be a shelter April 1, 2021. (Jesse Day - Western News)

BC Housing has proposed that Victory Church shelter at 352 Winnipeg Street in Penticton be extended until March 31, 2022. It was originally intended to be a shelter April 1, 2021. (Jesse Day - Western News)

Penticton council unanimously rejects BC Housing Victory Church shelter extension a second time

Council rejected BC Housing’s request to reconsider their previous decision

The ongoing saga of Penticton and BC Housing continues on.

At Tuesday’s meeting, city council voted unanimously to reject extending the permit for the Victory Church shelter, and to stay with their previous decision to close it on March 31.

The lack of wrap-around support, the location and the senior citizens in the area of the shelter, previous reservations about the original permit and the best interests of the community as a whole were discussed as the reasoning behind rejecting BC Housing’s request to extend the shelter for another year.

“As a councillor, we have a duty to all our citizens,” said Coun. Katie Robinson. “Our council reluctantly approved a temporary, emergency winter shelter, and at that time council made an ironclad promise to that neighbourhood that this inappropriate location would be temporary.”

READ MORE: Victory Church shelter to stay open with or without Penticton council support

“It is evident to me that we have the support of the majority of the community for the position we have taken,” said Coun. Julius Bloomfield. “Nobody is telling us to ignore the plight of the homeless. Everyone who has written us a letter also wants us to find a solution… We have the well-being of those 42 people at stake, and I don’t think we should take that lightly, and solving this issue is going to take longer than two weeks.”

Bloomfield proposed multiple options to consider for addressing issues, such as requiring new projects to provide a performance bond to ensure there is money for the supports, and to ensure that the city of Penticton, Interior Health and BC Housing are involved in discussing further solutions.

“We need to get back to the table,” said Bloomfield. “I think the elected politicians at both sides of the issue should not be at the table. It should be staff and the experts who are far better qualified than us to find the solutions.”

Bloomfield also pointed to how many projects the city had worked on before with BC Housing, noting that the city has one supportive housing space for every 143 residents, compared to one per 300 in Kelowna, one per 495 in Vernon and one per 3,600 in the rest of the province.

Coun. Frank Regehr pointed to the closure of Riverview Hospital, and the motion from the Union of B.C. Municipalities asking for it to be reopened in 2013 to address the number of mentally ill and addicted individuals living on the streets in the Lower Mainland.

He also noted that in the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen report on housing, no other community in the region had a substantial homeless population.

“The real problem in the city is inadequate community-based mental health and drug recovery programs for those living in supportive and shelter housing,” said Regehr. “Some of these individuals are contributing to Penticton RCMP having the highest caseload in British Columbia.”

Mayor John Vassilaki took the opportunity during council’s comments on the motion to call for better use of the province’s money than funding Victory Church, which he said is expected to cost $1.7 million for the 42 residents for the year.

“If they were going to take this $40,000 and put it into Riverview, as Coun. Regehr put forward; think of all the good it could do those folks,” said Vassilaki. “Maybe they could get rid of their addictions and their mental illness and make them somewhat normal, so they could live a better life.

“A different kind of life where they can help others instead of others helping them all the time.”

READ MORE: Penticton’s BC Housing audit on hold until shelter issue resolved

Coun. Campbell Watt also echoed the other councillors’ comments on the lack of supports for the housing projects already in the city.

“I will stand by that. I don’t believe BC Housing facilities are getting the correct support, are getting the correct people, and for whatever reason, our community is paying the price for those inadequacies,” said Watt.

One of the points that staff noted, in response to questions and comments from council, was that part of the issue and reason why Victory Church was even opened as a shelter had to do with the circumstances of the last year.

“This had to do with COVID, we couldn’t house all of the people as we usually could in our cold weather at Compass Court due to COVID,” said Blake Laven, city director of development services.

Compass Court has another phase in construction, that would add another 24 beds to what’s available, and the city has offered to help expedite that construction process.

Without council’s support, Minister David Eby had previously said that BC Housing and the province would go forward and keep the shelter open using their paramountcy powers to override council’s decision.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC HousingMunicipal Government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. wineries are open for indoor tasting despite new provincial health regulations. Photo- 
50th Parallel Winery, Instagram.
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Scotch Creek residents on the Saratoga water system will be without water for most of April 14 as the Columbia Shuswap Regional works on water system upgrades. (File photo)
Water system shutdown planned for Scotch Creek

Residents on Saratoga system encouraged to store water in case shutdown is longer than expected

Developer Bill Laird has applied to the city to have the two-acre parcel (outlined in yellow) behind the Westgate Mall, which is already out of the Agricultural Land Reserve, ready for development by having it included within the city’s Urban Containment Boundary and redesignated in the official community plan. (City of Salmon Arm image)
Plan to prepare field behind Westgate Mall for development gets initial OK

Proposal to expand urban containment boundary forwarded to council’s April 12 meeting

Mainly clear and sunny skies are expected for the Okanagan-Shuswap region this week. (Maxpixels photo)
Warm, sunny week ahead in Okanagan-Shuswap

Daytime highs will reach the low 20s with mainly clear skies this week

Janice Cannon, right, of Little Red Hen Artisan Bakery boxes up a selection of items for a customer at last year’s Downtown Salmon Arm Farmer’s Market. The Salmon Arm bakery is returning for this year’s market. (File photo)
Young vendors sought for Downtown Salmon Arm Farmer’s Market opening

Shuswap Food Action Society seeking small appliances, kitchenware for SAFE Society

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Shayla, an 8-pound black and grey Havanese, was stolen from outside a store on Banks Road on Saturday. (Contributed)
Stolen pup located, Kelowna RCMP confirms

Mounties said on April 12 that Shayla, the 8-pound, black and grey Havanese dog, has been located safe and sound

Penticton Vees continue their winning streak carrying a 5-0 win title as of Sunday night's hockey action. (Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography)
Penticton Vees continue winning streak

Sunday night’s 6-1 win has them with five in a row since the start of the season

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

A car sheared a Hydro pole and the driver was pinned by a fence pole on 43rd Avenue Saturday, April 10. (Carmen Jaster photo)
Suspected impaired driver ‘lucky to be alive’ after crash in Vernon yard

Impaired driving investigation underway after driver shears Hydro pole and narrowly misses being impaled

A crane stands in the middle of a fire-ravaged Glenmore Road construction site on Thursday, April 8. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Evacuation order remains in effect around burned Kelowna construction site

Assessment of potentially risky crane to take place this afternoon

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

Most Read