Politicians want to see issues with supportive housing addressed before BC housing build another in Penticton

Upset about housing plan

Casey Richardson

Penticton politicians are speaking out about a proposed housing project on Skaha Lake Road, stating there are issues more important to be addressed before the building starts development.

“At this point in time, I really think we need to redact a little bit and settle down. We have two other [supportive housing] locations in Penticton that are causing great concern, not only to the immediate area but to many residents in Penticton,” Penticton MLA Dan Ashton said, referring to Burdock House on Winnipeg Street and a larger site a the old Super 8 Motel on Main Street, which has been the source of many concerns.

“We need all the support in place to be in place, wrap-around supports to be at the other two premises before we start on the third one.”

Ashton added that there needs to be more community input included in this development as well, as it affects the entire area of Penticton, not just those in close proximity.

“I want them to step up (BC Housing) and look into this matter more and I want them to take into consideration the other 99.99 point per cent of the population of Penticton and think about them as much as they do about the homeless,” John Vassilaki, the mayor of Penticton said. He noted he was speaking for himself, not the entire council.

At a virtual webinar held by BC Housing on Tuesday evening, residents brought forward their concerns for the 54-unit supportive housing complex at 3420 Skaha Lake Road.

BC Housing stated at the meeting they hope to establish a “community advisory committee” comprised of members of the community in the surrounding area who wish to be involved. People are encouraged to call building staff at any time if they have concerns.

“Penticton has not had the best of luck with the latest two additions that have been put into our city with ongoing issues. I think before we come into the third unit, we need to get the other two up and running properly.” Ashton added.

Burdock house at Winnipeg street had a death of a tenant and two others kicked out for security concerns in its first two months of operation.

Vassilaki added he feels Penticton has already done its part in providing the previous facilities, wanting to see other areas in the region step up now as well.

“It’s just Pentictron thats taking the download,” he said. “We need cooperation between BC Housing, the provincial government and the city of Penticton and we haven’t seen any. We’ve been complaining for two years...We keep getting promises that things are going to improve.”

Both Vassilaki and Ashton plan to continue voicing the concerns that residents are bringing forward and see the issues addressed.

“Our hearts go out, we know that people need a roof over their head and we know that people need a home and I thank the agencies that are trying to do that. But if you take a look around, there’s other people here that have homes that have some grave concerns,” Ashton said.

“Let’s address concerns and again come back to the others...before we get ourselves maybe into another issue.”

And in response to a query over whether there are plans for more potential public consultation and consultation with the City since hearing the concerns raised Tuesday night, BC Housing responded with the following statement:

"BC Housing and our partners hosted a virtual Neighbourhood Information Session on this project on Jan. 19. We thank everyone from the community who attended to learn more, ask questions, and provide feedback to the project team," they wrote.

"We are working on our next engagement pieces based on the feedback we heard from the community, and intend to virtually host small group community dialogue sessions. We don’t yet have a date for these sessions but we’ll update the public once the timing is confirmed. In the meantime, more information about this project can be found at our Let’s Talk page."

BC Housing will only need to obtain a development and building permit from the City of Penticton since the proper zoning is already in place.

“We can’t really do much until they come to us but we still have some power when they come for their development permit, we still have the power there to make sure that what happened there if the proper thing to do in the community,” Vassilaki said.

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