Penticton city councillors are looking ahead to further discussions with BC Housing Minister David Eby regarding a proposed supportive housing building for people experiencing homelessness on Skaha Lake Road.
The two sides met to discuss the controversial development for the first time Tuesday (Jan. 26) afternoon.
The meeting was requested by the Attorney General’s Office in response to Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki’s letter on the feedback city council was receiving from local residents and businesses about the proposed project and its location.
Public opposition to the housing project was the main focus of discussions during the private meeting which included Penticton city council, Penticton’s MLA Dan Ashton, BC Housing CEO and staff, the Attorney General and Minister responsible for housing, along with his deputy minister and staff.
Before the meeting took place, the Penticton city council unanimously approved a notice of motion introduced by the mayor seeking a provincially-funded, transparent and third-party evaluation of the existing supportive housing in Penticton.
Those projects include Compass Court on Main Street, Burdock House on Winnipeg Street, and Fairhaven on Skaha Lake Road.
Council used the meeting with the minister of housing to inform him of this notice of motion.
During the meeting, members of council reiterated the concerns about the project and restated the need for a more comprehensive and community-wide engagement process before proceeding with any plans.
Council also requested a pause on any further developments with the housing project until an assessment of the existing supportive housing projects in Penticton is completed and made publicly available.
Referring to data provided by BC Housing which shows that homes for seniors and lower-income working families are the most urgent form of housing needed in Penticton, council also requested that BC Housing proceeds with a solution that serves the needs of these residents — if they continue with the project at 3240 Skaha Road.
“We remain a long way from concluding discussions on this proposed project, but overall I was very pleased with the reception Council received from Minister Eby who, at the conclusion of our meeting, indicated he would like to meet with Council again next week to further discuss our community’s concerns and provide additional information about the project,” said Vassilaki in a release. “Council was also told that additional community engagement opportunities will be organized, so I encourage all residents to sign up for these events as soon as the dates are made available.”
When asked to comment on the meeting, BC Housing provided the following statement to the Western News:
”BC Housing routinely receives questions from partners about the wide variety of types of housing they operate. Yesterday Minister Eby, BC Housing and the City of Penticton met.
“The meeting allowed all parties to get acquainted with one another and for the City of Penticton to share their perspective. The City of Penticton expressed a number of requests for information they have related to supportive housing buildings in Penticton. BC Housing agreed to work to gather that information to respond to the city’s questions.”