The ongoing feud between the city of Penticton and BC Housing is now facing a new deadline.
Council and city staff are holding a meeting tonight, March 10, to address a letter outlining the options that BC Housing is considering.
That letter also carried a March 15 deadline for a response from city council.
One of those options would be for the council to reconsider their unanimous decision to reject extending the temporary use permit to a year-long shelter at Victory Church.
The other option, according to the copy of the letter provided to the Western News, would see the provincial government use the ‘paramountcy’ powers laid out in Section 14 (2) of the Interpretation Act.
That specific subsection states “an enactment that would bind or affect the government in the use or development of land, or in the planning, construction, alteration, servicing, maintenance or use of improvements, as defined in the Assessment Act, does not bind or affect the government.”
Through the use of the Act, the province would be able to override council’s decision, as it relates to the use of land and improvements by BC Housing.
“The Premier was talking about discussion and democracy to work out our problems,” said Mayor John Vassilaki. “Now instead of doing it the democratic way, [Minister of Housing David] Eby is threatening us and they might be bringing more regulations into play to go over our heads. I don’t know if they talk to each other so that they’re on the same page, because right now, they’re not.”
In the letter, signed by BC Housing CEO Shayne Ramsay, BC Housing also committed again to the construction of the supportive housing on Skaha Lake Road that had spurred council to ask for an audit of three current BC Housing projects in Penticton.
“Construction is set to begin soon on approximately 50 new supportive homes with 24/7 support services being developed on Skaha Lake Road, with completion in early 2022,” reads the letter. “The supportive homes are the first phase of the site’s redevelopment; the rest of the site will be kept available for future affordable housing projects for people in Penticton, including seniors, singles, families and/or people with a disability.”
There is no mention in the letter of the city’s request for an audit of existing housing and services in the city, despite the willingness by Eby to do it, according to Vassilaki.
“We have no idea when it’s going to begin and how far they’re going to go. Or if they are they actually going to have a third party doing it. I want to make sure that they are going down to talk to the folks in those situations, and especially to our citizens to see what effect all this has had on their lives.”
Minister Eby was unable to be reached for comment by the time of publishing.
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