Penticton Safety and Security Advisory Committee lands on parameters for future temporary homeless shelters

Where to put shelters?

The City of Penticton's Safety and Security Advisory Committee, made up of a group of volunteer civilians, has finally agreed on draft guidelines as to where and how homeless shelters should be implemented in the city.

At Monday's meeting, the committee came to an agreement on what recommendations should be referred to city council. The draft guideline includes designating the existing Compass Court shelter as the city's main and only permanent shelter, and future temporary shelters be limited to eight, 12 or 20 occupants.

The guideline also recommends temporary shelters be kept away from schools, parks, beaches, and major business or tourism areas like downtown Main and Martin Streets, Riverside Drive, Skaha Lake Road and Westminster Avenue.

Abstinence-based facilities are recommended to be exempted from the rest of the guidelines, as well as shelter services focused on women and children fleeing violence or abuse.

The committee settled on the recommendation only after lengthy discussion at previous meetings. Committee member Cheryl Watts expressed her opinion that their purpose had been "lost in the weeds," influenced by public but unrelated fights the city is having with provincial authorities over shelters like Victory Church.

"We just need to focus on where some temporary shelters could be, if we need it,” Watts said.

“We just have to find those places, and however [BC Housing] wants to operate them, that’s their thing.”

City Coun. Katie Robinson called the recommendation a "good step."

"At least we’re starting to get a handle on it, so it’s not quite a free-for-all,” Robinson said.

City council will discuss the recommendations approved by the committee at a later meeting.

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