Penticton charity group provides last supper, finally bows to city pressure to move from public space - InfoNews

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Penticton charity group provides last supper, finally bows to city pressure to move from public space

Christine Volk serves Timothy Anderson at the last Monday night supper at Nanaimo Square which took place yesterday evening, May 27, 2019.
May 28, 2019 - 6:00 PM

PENTICTON - Last night was the last supper to be served to Penticton’s underprivileged in Nanaimo Square.

Monday Night Dinners at Nanaimo Square’s Kona Sankey said last night, May 27, the group’s new location, starting next Monday night, should be secure. It's on private property at Sunrise Pharmacy in the 700 block of Main Street and the city can’t tell them to move.

The group decided to move the location of their suppers after the city chained off a section of Nanaimo Square for a local business owner’s outdoor patio — a final straw following months of underlying conflict with others who didn’t want to see the supper group using the public square.

Sankey said the Monday night suppers has always received ‘mixed messages’ about their charitable activities, depending on who was concerned.

“We’ve always been fighting one thing or another since we’ve been here, between the tenants in this building who come to us and say they have no problem with us being here, and the Downtown Penticton Association who haven’t even come and talked to us,” Sankey says.

“The downtown association and city council claim people are scared, complaining about mischief and drug use - it depends who you ask,” she says.

Sankey says the group attending the Monday night sessions refuse to tolerate drug use while the suppers are taking place.

“We don’t have to raise our voice, and we’ve only had to call the police once,” she says.

The area has also been faithfully cleaned up after every supper, with those attending often pitching in to help.

Sankey says those attending the suppers are aware of the statements against them and most see the criticism as nothing new.

“It’s something they have to learn to expect, rather than being offered help,” she says.

Jan Petrasek, owner of Petrasek’s Bakery in Nanaimo Square, said today, May 28 he didn’t wish to answer further questions about the issue of sectioning off a portion of the square for an outdoor patio, saying he planned to meet publicly with city officials to jointly announce “what is happening and what is going to happen” to the square space.

“Soon people will see the changes and they will become happy,” he said.

City of Penticton development services manager Anthony Haddad said no public meeting was planned, but the city has been working with Petrasek the last couple of days as he finishes the required paperwork to lease the space for his outside patio.

He said the city has been working with the Downtown Penticton Association and Petrasek since he opened the bakery last winter to see how they could ‘activate’ the space in Nanaimo Square. Haddad said the issue came to a head amongst area residents, business owners and employees a couple of weeks ago.

“He (Petrasek) fully intends on using that space,” Haddad said, adding typically installation of barriers is a requirement of the business owner, but because Nanaimo Square represented a ‘different type of space,’ the city provided them in this case.

He says the chain railing was installed to provide flexibility of the space.

“The original design of Nanaimo Square lends to undesirable activities taking place. We’ve taken a joint approach to deal with some of the undesirable activity and look forward to successful use of that space,” Haddad said.

Around 30 people attended the last Monday night supper at Nanaimo Square yesterday evening, May 27, 2019.
Around 30 people attended the last Monday night supper at Nanaimo Square yesterday evening, May 27, 2019.

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