Affordable housing could be combined with emergency services at a new city-owned building in Penticton

Police, fire, housing?

Affordable housing could be combined with emergency services at a new city-owned building in Penticton.

At Tuesday's meeting, city council voted to spend $75,000 on a needs assessment for a complex that could see a fire hall — since the main fire hall on Nanaimo Avenue has been slated for replacement — share a space with a public safety and Emergency Operations Centre, bylaw and community policing, RCMP, as well as, potentially, housing and commercial spaces.

"The first phase of the project will involve a complete analysis of the background materials, user group needs, stakeholder and partnership opportunities. A space needs analysis will be undertaken working with all proposed user groups to determine the space programming required within the facility," wrote community services general manager Anthony Haddad in his report to council.

"Identification of required city processes, policy compliance and approval processes will also be identified in the first phase of the process, including the creation of a Project Steering Committee."

The $75,000 will fund that first step, including preliminary site identification processes.

"Research will also be undertaken on similar types of facilities across the province and country to look at lessons learned to help inform this important project for the city."

Council was in support, though Coun. Judy Sentes had some thoughts.

“I would be very interested in a couple of the points that are being pursued, not he least of which is affordable housing and commercial use to be incorporated,” Sentes said, but added a concern about emergency services like fire and RCMP sharing a space with residents.

“For my two cents worth, I don’t see those things being incorporated effectively or efficiently. I just think there’s a lot of concern about encumbering the ability of our emergency services to do their job. But I look forward to the committee.”

Haddad said city staff will be looking to council as things move forward for direction as to the structure of the committee, and assured council the community would be involved.

"We certainly will have the public at the table in detail through this process."

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