BC Housing is building a four-storey, 54 unit supportive housing on an empty site it purchased on Skaha Lake Road. They plan to model it after the existing Burdock House on Winnipeg Street. (Rendering from BC Housing)

BC Housing is building a four-storey, 54 unit supportive housing on an empty site it purchased on Skaha Lake Road. They plan to model it after the existing Burdock House on Winnipeg Street. (Rendering from BC Housing)

Penticton wants guidelines for where homeless housing should and shouldn’t go

BC Housing’s Skaha Lake Road project is on the no-go list to be discussed at Monday’s meeting

Setting up guidelines where homeless shelters and supportive housing should and shouldn’t go will be the hot topic again at Penticton’s Safety and Security Committee meeting on Monday.

Blake Laven, the city’s director of development services, will present an update on the proposed guidelines of where future shelters and supportive housing should be placed.

Penticton city council wants to set up guidelines so that the provincial government can be made aware of its boundaries.

One of the suggested no-go zones is Skaha Lake Road where BC Housing is building a four-storey, 54-unit supportive housing for those experiencing homeless. Several people in reflective vests were walking the site last week, leading to speculation if work is getting underway soon.

BC Housing is hoping to have people in that housing project by 2022.

The Western News reached out to BC Housing about the timelines on the Skaha Lake Road project but hasn’t heard back.

The city has gone on record that it is against the location of the Skaha project, saying several times that Penticton has more supportive housing for the homeless than any other municipality in the Interior region.

In January, Mayor John Vassilaki told the Western News that BC Housing isn’t helping the people it serves.

“Speaking for myself here, not council, I don’t want to see Penticton turn into ghettos. BC Housing has the motels for the homeless in Skaha, they have the motels along Main St., projects on Martin and Winnipeg St. Are these really helping people with their addictions or mental health? BC Housing doesn’t seem to get to the root of the problem. They just put a Band-aid on it.”

READ MORE: Penticton mayor and MLA share concerns over Skaha BC Housing

In a spat over the Victory Church shelter’s temporary permit, BC Housing minister David Eby said the province doesn’t require a development permit to go ahead with building the Skaha Lake Road housing, using its paramountcy powers to move the housing along.

Eby has already used the government’s paramountcy powers to override city council’s decision to close the temporary shelter at Victory Church. He said he plans to do the same for Skaha.

The provincial government is overseeing costs to keep that shelter open “until housing is available” at the Skaha Lake Road project, said Eby.

At its last meeting, council voted to have the premier intervene with the shelter issue. It also decided to go ahead with legal action against the provincial government.

Council also sought support from other municipalities in B.C. to not allow the provincial government to override council decisions. So far, Summerland council and North Vancouver council have come out in support.

READ MORE: Summerland offers supports to Penticton in dispute with province

Other no go zones proposed are near Okanagan and Skaha beach, Gyro Park, the Rose Garden, the 100 to 700 block of Main Street, the 100 to 300 blocks of Martin Street and more.

Victory Church’s location is not in the no-go zone.

A special Safety and Security Advisory Committee meeting was held Monday, April 19 to discuss the shelter guidelines.

READ ALSO: BC Housing peppered with questions about Skaha housing project

READ MORE: Special meeting to talk about no-go zones for shelters

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