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BC Housing commits to letter of agreement for Penticton recovery house

Letter on Tuesday’s council agenda along with recommended permit approval for Skaha building

Penticton city council will have its first look at a long-awaited letter of agreement from BC Housing regarding the supportive housing on Skaha Lake Road.

In Tuesday’s council agenda, city staff are recommending that council issue a development permit for the recovery house now that BC Housing has agreed to the terms of a letter of agreement.

Council passed a resolution at the July 20 meeting that it would approve a development permit for the four-storey, 54-unit supportive housing if the city and BC Housing enter an agreement ensuring the satisfactory long-term operation of the building as a recovery-focused facility.

In August, BC Housing rejected council’s request for certain criteria to be met before the city issues the permit, saying it wasn’t required to agree to any terms, urging council to approve the development.

READ MORE: BC Housing does not accept criteria demands to get permit for Skaha housing project

Since then staff have continued to work on a draft letter that BC Housing has just recently agreed to sign.

The letter before council includes the intended name of the building to be Nxastwilxtn which means ‘a place to come for healing and wellness’ in the Syilx language.

It will also include the following stipulations:

• Residents living there have to be committed and prepared to live a life of recovery.

• Staffing will include various specialists including an Indigenous addictions counsellor, a vocational specialist and cultural support worker, aiming to bring peer coaching, Indigenous staffing, programming and influence with a clear recovery focus.

• BC Housing will enter into a robust operating agreement with the current operators of Ask Wellness and Oonknakane Friendship Centre and BC Housing must establish a Community Advisory Committee.

• BC Housing also will conduct a review of the project 12 months following the opening of the facility with the results made public, use the Good Neighbour Bylaw, work closely with the city to address community concerns.

• Lastly, the facility must be staffed 24/7.

• BC Housing also commits in the agreement to notify the city of any proposed changes to the operating model.

“Council may have wanted to see included in the agreement that were not able to be included such as a performance bonds and guarantees on taxation classification,” the staff report reads. “Nevertheless, staff consider the agreement meets the general intention of council’s desire to have additional assurance that the project will proceed as intended.”

READ MORE: Details revealed about type of supports coming to Skaha housing

Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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