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Penticton  

The year of social issues

Social issues dominated the conversation this year at city hall, but Mayor Andrew Jakubeit says he sees “forward momentum” being made on homelessness, mental health and crime.

During a year-end interview on Castanet’s Mayor’s Minute, Jakubeit also voiced optimism about the direction the community is heading with record development figures and improved public engagement.

Penticton’s own city manager called homelessness a “crisis” in the city in June, kick-starting a discussion within city hall about how the local government can tackle issues the provincial and federal governments have failed on.

“We had a forum on homelessness, mental health and addiction and got a lot of the nonprofits and faith based groups in one room talking about the issues,” Jakubeit said.

“We actually had some success in having BC Housing come on board with housing initiatives, we are starting to see some forward momentum building to tackle some of these social issues, and I think you will see more of that in 2018 coming into action and seeing those tangible results,” Jakubeit added.

The Mayor said he is also proud with how the city’s public engagement has improved since the Skaha Lake waterslide debacle, pointing to issues such as downtown parking and the 2018 budget that got heavy feedback through shapeyourcitypenticton.ca.

More than $200 million worth of development took place in Penticton in 2017, said Jakubeit.

“When you see things like the Lakeside opening 70 new rooms, and two new hotels being approved — we haven't had that since the early 80s,” he said.

Looking forward to 2018, Jakubeit says the city will be working to leverage the “developmental boom” to clean up derelict properties and put empty lots to use.

He added that he would like to see more affordable housing built.

“Not just something for homelessness, but for people that are struggling and need some subsidized housing — the working poor, young families or seniors.”

Major tasks on the city’s to-do list next year include completing the parks and recreation master plan and the official community plan. Both are currently in the committee stage, but the second draft of the parks plan was unveiled this year.

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