Penticton mayor asks for premier's help in homeless shelter dispute with housing ministry | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton mayor asks for premier's help in homeless shelter dispute with housing ministry

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May 12, 2021 - 9:29 AM

Penticton John Vassilkaki is calling on Premier John Horgan to intervene in city council's dispute with the housing ministry over an emergency winter shelter for homeless people.

In an open letter today, May12, Vassilkaki asked Horgan to intervene in the matter, claiming residents have expressed “overwhelming support” for a request to have the premier intervene in the Housing Minister David Eby's threat to invoke paramountcy powers to force the city to maintain the shelter at its present location at 352 Winnipeg St.

In the open letter, Vassilaki said Penticton's 33,000 residents care about housing for those in need.

The mayor said the housing minister misinformed British Columbians about Penticton’s support of social housing, in addition to remaining silent about the negative impact the shelter has had on nearby senior citizens.

Vassilkaki accused Eby of "provoking and polarizing legitimate concerns,” by threatening to bring in 1,000 tents and sleeping bags.

“Provincial leadership listens to the public and local concerns. Solving problems for one group should never bring harm or risk of safety to another. The goal should be to work together to find a better shelter location,” the mayor wrote.

Vassilaki concludes the letter by asking the premier to reconsider Eby’s threat to invoke provincial paramountcy over the shelter closure decision.

“Instead, direct B.C. Housing to apply solutions already suggested by city staff to find a better location, as Penticton council requested in October, 2020,” the mayor concludes.

City council and the housing ministry have been embroiled in a dispute over the planned closure of the homeless shelter on March 31. The province had threatened to use its powers as a higher level of government to override council's wishes to close the shelter down, which continues to operate.

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