Working with cities a courtesy not requirement, says BC Housing in court

Shelter dispute continues

BC Housing has fired back in court at the City of Penticton's lawsuit over the Victory Church shelter.

The city filed a civil claim in July after the provincial government refused to close the shelter, despite council declining to extend its permit to operate. The suit sought a court order accepting the validity of the local zoning bylaw at 352 Winnipeg Street, which would effectively force Victory Church shelter to close, as well as costs.

In the BC’s Housing’s response to the City, filed Sept. 14, they argued that while local government plays a vital role in determining use of land with their jurisdiction, if that comes into conflict with use of land by the provincial crown, than the use of land cannot be restricted by municipal agents.

“In other words, although BC Housing attempts to comply with municipal requirements where possible, the execution of its mandate should not be subject to different bylaw requirements in different municipalities affecting its use or development of land.”

The attorney general also filed a response in court on Sept. 10, claiming BC Housing only applied for the temporary use permit out of courtesy to the municipal government.

“As a general rule, this is good public policy. But voluntary compliance does not “waive” Crown immunity. It would be perverse to say that when a provincial government agency cooperates with a local government and complies with its requirements, it permanently loses its immunity. The only possible effect of this would be to minimize cooperation.”

The City’s lawsuit argued that BC Housing isn’t using the land to operate the shelter itself, leaving it in the hands of operator Penticton and District Society for Community Living, which should hinder BC Housing's paramountcy standing.

BC Housing countered that the city permit was issued to BC Housing in their name.

“Demonstrating that the City considered BC Housing and not PDSCL, to be the ‘user’ of the property.”

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