Grand Forks city council on Monday, May 3, voted not to support Penticton’s challenge in its dispute over the province’s housing policy.
Penticton city council made headlines in March when housing minister David Eby invoked Victoria’s paramountcy over local governments, overruling council’s decision not to extend operations of a local homeless shelter until next spring.
Grand Forks city council meanwhile approved a similar extension to the city’s homeless shelter at the old Hardy View Lodge, which Eby suggested would spur plans to build a permanent shelter at the city’s so-called Motocross site on Morrissey Creek Road.
Grand Forks Coun. Neil Krog asked council to write a letter to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) supporting Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki’s request that Eby or Premier John Horgan reconsider Victoria’s use of paramountcy. Krog said council should support Penticton because, if unchecked, the province could invoke its paramountcy to force unwelcome changes not only to Grand Forks’ bylaws, but also to “our waste water treatment plants.”
“In Penticton, it’s not about homelessness: It’s about land use and the use of their bylaws,” he explained.
Mayor Brian Taylor objected that sending a letter to UBCM would inappropriately commit the city to a position within the forum, where he said individual members should vote “according to their conscience.”
Taylor and Coun. Christine Thompson said they would consider a resolution by UBCM that sought to define where the province could reasonably invoke paramountcy. Coun. Chris Moslin then objected that Penticton’s single-issue dispute doesn’t amount to a constitutional battle between local governments and Victoria.
“It is about housing. It is about Eby,” he countered.
Couns. Moslin, Thompson, Everett Baker and Kathy Korolek joined Mayor Taylor in voting against Krog and Coun. Zak Eburne Stoodley, defeating Krog’s motion.