BC Housing units at council

Penticton city council will vote Tuesday on the 62-unit BC Housing development for the homeless proposed for Winnipeg Street.

The modular building will replace two homes at 594 and 600 Winnipeg, between two churches. The project is a second-try by BC Housing to find a location for transitional beds for Penticton’s homeless as a part of a larger plan to build 2,000 units across B.C.

The first location, on Green Avenue West, was voted down by council following outcry from the neighbourhood.

The new development proposed for Winnipeg Street is 10 units larger than the rejected proposal, with entirely different aesthetics.

The project has ditched the art-deco theme lamented by some councillors for a wood-accented structure.

“This will be the first such building constructed in Penticton,” city planner Nicole Capewell said in her report to council. “Supports available on-site will include counselling, 24/7 staffing, meals and other services intended to give opportunities for the residents to transition to more stable and permanent housing options.”

The project will not be going to a public hearing because it is being placed on land already zoned for high-density residential.

“The zoning was put in place through a development application for an 18-unit apartment building in 1994,” Capewell explained. The four-storey modular development will not require any variances, and fits the official community plan, the report notes.

The most recent Penticton homeless count data released in July found 108 rough-sleepers in the Peach City. With public safety and homelessness the dominating issue of the summer in Penticton, the city has voiced a desire for a more permanent solution to the problem, rather than spending big money on bylaw and RCMP patrols.

“The solution is not chasing them around the city… the solution is housing,” city manager Peter Weeber said in July.

If council approves the development permit Tuesday, BC Housing is believed to want to start construction before the end of the year.

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