Penticton mayor John Vassilaki and Minister of Housing David Eby have been battling over the Victory Church shelter and BC Housing projects in the city. (File photos)

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki and Minister of Housing David Eby have been battling over the Victory Church shelter and BC Housing projects in the city. (File photos)

Penticton heads to court over homeless shelter as BC Housing audit begins

The city was not satisfied with the response from Minister David Eby regarding the ongoing situation

The city of Penticton will be moving forward with legal action against the province after BC Housing’s promised audit failed to live up to council’s expectations.

In a letter to the city, dated June 16, 2021, BC Housing confirmed that they will now begin the audit four months after the city requested one.

The review of BC Housing’s three supportive housing sites in Penticton – Burdock, Compass Court and Fairhaven will be conducted over a period of six months. In a letter sent to City staff on June 16, BC Housing announced it had retained Harry Cummings and Associates to conduct the review.

City council had requested that the report be completed prior to the application for more supportive housing in the community, specifically at 3240 Skaha Lake Road. While an application for housing has been made at 3240 Skaha Lake Road, BC Housing has re-oriented the focus towards a recovery housing model.

READ MORE: City of Penticton seeks audit of BC Housing supportive housing units

The city also reported that Minister Eby, writing on behalf of Premier John Horgan on June 17, 2021, responded to Mayor John Vassilaki’s May 12, 2021 request for the Premier to intervene.

“Concerning Minister Eby’s letter, it contained no follow-up to Council’s request that Premier Horgan intervene on the matter of 352 Winnipeg Street, so we’ll conclude that’s not going to happen and after weeks of delay, BC Housing has finally provided our legal counsel with the information we require to file suit in this matter. Unfortunately, we’ll now need to proceed down that course,” said Vassilaki.

One of the issues cited by the city is a lack of clarity on how much public engagement there will be in the review process, a key aspect that city council has repeatedly requested regarding the impact of the supportive housing facilities on their surrounding areas.

“In terms of what council is looking for, we’ve been clear from the beginning. BC Housing’s letter neither met our expectation for timely and aligned information, nor did it facilitate a notable stride forward on this issue,” said Vassilaki. “In spite of our disappointment, the City will fully participate, and continue to push for transparency of process and results.”

READ MORE: Penticton council heads into closed meeting on legal action after letter from BC Housing

The June 16 letter asks the city to provide data from local first responders, while it also notes that the review is not a joint project and that as a courtesy BC Housing will provide advance notice ahead of the review’s publication.

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