Province will keep Penticton's emergency shelter operational, housing minister says | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Province will keep Penticton's emergency shelter operational, housing minister says

B.C. Housing Minister David Eby responded to Penticton city council's decision not to reconsider closure of the city's emergency winter shelter this afternoon, March 17, 2021.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
March 17, 2021 - 2:36 PM

The province intends to push forward with an extension of Penticton’s emergency winter shelter in spite of council’s objection.

Housing Minister David Eby said today, March 17, the province would invoke paramountcy and proceed with plans to maintain the shelter in response to Penticton city council's refusal to reconsider the matter at yesterday’s council meeting.

B.C. Housing applied and received a temporary use permit to use the former Victory Church building at 352 Winnipeg St. as a temporary location for winter shelter beds last fall and the province wanted to extend the shelter at that location. Council approved the initial permit, with a list of conditions, but denied the extension putting a serious crimp in the province's plans to deal with homelessness.

Eby said he was working with mayors across the province to build complex care buildings where people, “can receive services far more in the nature of health care than housing, especially those folks who have profound mental health and addiction issues who are falling out of supportive housing.”

READ MORE: Penticton city council says no to emergency shelter extension

The minister said he recognized the issues.

“I tried to convey that in the multiple meetings I had with mayor and council," Eby said. "We have a lot in common in terms of shared concerns and the need to address them. These are not issues that showed up overnight… it really needs leadership from a local level.”

He said the lack of wrap around services was an issue that was not unique to Penticton.

“I made it explicitly clear to the mayor, to council in many, many public statements, that non-negotiable was going backwards, and we will not solve the issues of mental health and addiction while moving people from a shelter into a park. In fact, it will make things worse,” Eby said.

Eby said Penticton is the only municipality the province is invoking paramountcy with at this time.

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