Homeless shelter portrayed as drug den in dispute between province, Penticton council
A homeless person is seen in downtown Toronto, on Wednesday, January 3, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
PENTICTON, B.C. -- A homeless shelter at the centre of a dispute between the British Columbia government and the City of Penticton was portrayed Tuesday as a drug den and a potential catalyst to spur action on housing in the Okanagan community during a special council meeting.
The future of the 42-bed downtown Victory Church shelter was placed in doubt earlier this month when Penticton council voted to reject B.C. Housing's application to extend its temporary-use permit beyond March 31 for another year.
Mayor John Vassilaki gave no indication during the meeting whether the city will shut down the 42-bed shelter next week or fight the province in court as it seeks to keep the facility open.
“We are working with the best interests of the public, their safety and their welfare and that's what we're interested in,” Vassilaki told the meeting. “If it takes whatever it takes for us to continue on that course, that's what we're going to do.”
The shelter lacks the necessary treatment and mental health supports for its residents, and nearby neighbours, particularly seniors, are raising concerns about safety issues, he said.
Housing Minister David Eby has said the province could use its authority to prevent the city from sending dozens of homeless people back onto the streets.