If the City of Penticton opts to take legal action against the provincial government over the Victory Church homeless shelter it would cost them an estimated $200,000 to $300,000, according to a late item added to the city’s agenda for their special council meeting Wednesday (March 31).
Council will meet with city staff this evening to discuss their next steps regarding the shelter which has dominated local headlines of late.
The 42-bed shelter’s lease expires at midnight on March 31, but BC Housing will continue to operate it through the Penticton and District Society for Community Living despite the city twice denying BC Housing’s request to keep the shelter open longer than originally intended.
The province’s housing minister David Eby has said the province will use paramountcy powers to override the city’s decision and keep the shelter open.
Penticton city staff are recommending that council conduct a public opinion survey on the shelter before pursuing legal action.
If approved the survey would begin March 31 and end April 10.
Staff are recommending the city survey Penticton residents and businesses to provide unbiased information about the community’s opinion of recent decisions, as well as provide direction on some of the options being considered. The results of the survey will be provided to council to inform future decisions about the shelter.
The goal of the survey is to seek the community’s opinion on recent council decisions and direction on how to proceed.
The questions seek to understand the community’s agreement with council’s decision not to renew the shelter’s permit, the Provincial government’s decision to invoke paramountcy, moving forward with a legal challenge and inviting the Premier to intervene.
The survey also provides participants with an opportunity to provide context for their responses and to share their views on how they would like to see the situation resolved.
In question four of the survey, staff reveals how much they believe pursuing legal action against the province would cost the city.
“Council is considering whether or not to exercise its legal right to challenge the Province in the courts, with the goal of closing and/or relocating the shelter. This process could cost between $200,000 to $300,000. Do you agree or disagree with moving forward with a legal challenge?” reads question four.
If approved by council, staff would begin taking responses on the ten question survey immediately.
To view of a draft of the survey and staff’s entire report, scroll to the bottom of the city’s special council meeting agenda.
The special council meeting begins Wednesday at 4 p.m.