Majority of those surveyed back Penticton council's controversial decision on homeless shelter | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Majority of those surveyed back Penticton council's controversial decision on homeless shelter

The temporary winter homeless shelter at 352 Winnipeg St. is pictured in this undated file photo. A majority of Penticton residents appear to back the mayor and council over recent controversial decisions regarding closure of a temporary winter homeless shelter.
April 19, 2021 - 10:33 AM

A majority of Penticton residents appear to back the mayor and council over recent controversial decisions regarding closure of a temporary winter homeless shelter.

The City issued a media release today, April 19, summarizing the results of a recent survey. It is intended to formalize public feedback around council’s decision not to renew a temporary use permit for the emergency winter shelter at 352 Winnipeg St.

Council had committed to closing the shelter at the end of March but an ensuing disagreement with B.C. housing resulting in the province using its powers of paramountcy to override council’s decision. The province continues to operate the shelter.

The survey of the general public generated 3,472 responses, while a survey sent to the City’s Shape Your City database, consisting of 5,700 members, generated 421 responses.

Of those asked in the public survey, 64 per cent said they were in favour of council’s decision. In the survey of those in the database, 61 per cent were in favour.

The survey also found 66 per cent of the people who responded in the public survey disagreed with the province using its power to overrule council’s decision, while 67 per cent in the random sample survey from the database were in favour.

However, fewer residents thought it was worthwhile to pursue a lawsuit against the province at an estimated to cost between $200,000 and $300,000. The survey found 51 per cent of the public survey in favour of such a move, compared to only 39 per cent in the random sample survey.

There’s a majority of public support for intervention by B.C. Premier John Horgan in the matter, with 78 per cent of the public survey in favour and 85 per cent of the random sample survey in favour.

"Council will discuss the survey results in detail during tomorrow’s meeting," Mayor John Vassilaki said in the release. "Today I want to thank the thousands of Penticton residents from across the spectrum of our community who answered council’s call for feedback.”

Here is a list of possible next steps council could take as outlined in the release:

  • Continue negotiations with the province with the immediate closure of the shelter and a transitioning of residents to other quarters.
  • Continue City staff work to reduce bylaw and emergency service concerns, while declaring the shelter a Nuisance Property under the Good Neighbour Bylaw if problems on the property don’t immediately stop.
  • Send a letter to the B.C. premier requesting intervention.
  • Begin taking injunctive (legal) action, with costs potentially reaching $300,000.

Find past stories on Penticton homelessness here.


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