BC Housing, city talking

The Mayor of Penticton is confident a BC Housing development for the homeless will still come to fruition within the city, after council rejected plans this week for 52 units on Green Ave.

Council voted 5 - 1 Tuesday to send the modular project back to the drawing board due to concerns around its location within a school zone.

“I don’t think anyone in the public hearing or amongst council didn’t see the need,” Andrew Jakubeit said during this week’s Mayor’s Minute. “It boiled down to location. Some of the neighbours used the proximity to schools as an excuse or lobbying point — and it is a valid concern.”

Jakubeit said it’s possible BC Housing selected the Green Avenue location because it is an empty, provincially-owned lot, that would allow quick construction.

The 52-units would have been added to 46 existing transitional beds next-door at the Skaha Sunrise Apartments. The development is a part of 2,000 similar beds being rolled out by the provincial government across B.C.

“One of the residents brought up, ‘we already have 46 units here, our neighbourhoods already contributing, our neighbourhood already has its fair share.’” Jakubeit said, adding he would prefer to see transitional housing units spread throughout the community rather than centralized.

The Mayor said he and most on council are in support of the development in principle, which will provide 24/7 security and supports for those currently living on the streets. 

“We know there is the need for it. It’s economically more cost effective to have them housed, then to sort of manage and chase after them and have protective services… I’d rather have the police doing police work than managing homelessness,” he said.

He added similar developments fully staffed with support services have proven to be a great success. Supt Ted De Jager said this week called to the Fairhaven transitional housing project in Penticton have fallen to less than one a month with new programming there.

Jakubeit said city staff met with BC Housing Wednesday to discuss potential new locations for the project, “we are trying to fast track that and find a solution that works for everyone.”

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