RDOS board members reluctant to support Penticton mayor in ongoing fight against paramountcy invoked by provincial government

Mayor blasts RDOS board

Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki did not mince words at Thursday's Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen meeting, blasting some of his colleagues for opposing his request that the RDOS support the city's ongoing tussle with the province.

Vassilaki, in his capacity as an RDOS board member, introduced a motion that the board send a letter to the provincial government opposing its decision to invoke paramountcy laws to keep the Victory Church emergency homeless shelter open against the wishes of Penticton city council — but that request was firmly opposed by some regional directors, who balked at getting involved in municipal matters.

Vassilaki pitched the proposed letter as a way of standing up for the rights of all local municipalities.

"Today it’s happening to Penticton, tomorrow it could happen to Oliver, Osoyoos, Keremeos,” Vassilaki said.

But some on the board felt this was not a fight the RDOS should wade into, saying involving the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), which Penticton has already done, is the better path.

"I think that is the correct way to proceed with this,” Osoyoos mayor Sue McKortoff said. "I totally understand the concerns, and I absolutely have sympathy for that. But I just think it’s the matter of how we proceed with this.”

"This is not the right place, the right way to proceed," added Okanagan Falls director Ron Obirek.

"We are a product of the province. It does feel like being put in a difficult situation here. UBCM would be a good forum," board chair Karla Kozakevich said.

Directors George Bush of Cawston and Spencer Coyne of Princeton echoed those feelings.

Vassilaki did not hold back in slamming his colleagues who had spoken against his request.

"Shame on you. I just don’t understand where you people are coming from, and how you can sleep at night,” Vassilaki said.

“I don’t sugarcoat anything. I say it how it is, and you should be ashamed of yourselves.”

Ultimately, despite the dissent, the motion passed, with nine opposing votes.

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