Overnight homeless campsite near Penticton's Peach ignites social media furor | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Overnight homeless campsite near Penticton's Peach ignites social media furor

Penticton tenters who set up an overnight site in front of the city's tourism and chamber offices on the Okanagan lakeshore were busy packing up this morning, March 29, 2021.
March 29, 2021 - 4:49 PM

Inclement weather in Penticton resulted in some homeless people setting up an overnight camp site in a controversial spot overnight.

A large tent was spotted in the front entrance of the building housing the offices of Tourism Penticton along with Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, next door to the iconic Peach concession in in Gyro Park this morning, March 29.

Photos of the site posted online generated hundreds of comments on social media.

Penticton communications manager Philip Cooper said bylaw officers attended the location at their first opportunity today to assess the situation. The officers determined the campers to be well-known rough sleepers. Cooper described rough sleepers as individuals who prefer to sleep outdoors versus using provided shelter facilities.

“The officers then oversaw the area while the individuals packed up, following which the area was cleared and checked for any safety issues,” Cooper said in an email today, March 29.

A strong cold front that moved through the region last night brought high winds, plummeting temperatures, snow and rain to the Okanagan. It appears the tent was strategically placed to provide shelter from strong, gusty north winds that continued to pound the Penticton lakeshore this morning.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Attorney General and B.C. Housing says Penticton’s emergency shelter has operated at its full 42- bed capacity each night from March 22 to 28.

The City of Penticton and the province’s housing ministry have been battling over continued operation of the emergency shelter at 352 Winnipeg St. since city council refused to allow an extension of the shelter’s operation beyond its original March 31 deadline.

The province has said it would use its power of paramountcy to override council’s decision and continue operating the shelter beyond the scheduled closing date.

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