After weeks of mulling over its options, the City of Penticton has now filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court over a controversial downtown emergency shelter.
The city announced that it is challenging the province’s decision to invoke paramountcy over the 42-bed shelter on Winnipeg Street.
The province has kept the shelter’s doors open despite loud objections from both residents and city council.
Talking to some nearby residents on Friday, Global News could not find anyone that was in favour of keeping the shelter at its current location.
“I’d like to see it gone, it shouldn’t be downtown for starters. They are scaring a lot of seniors,” said Patrick Fewer, a Penticton resident
“I think it should be moved, we’re just about fed up with all the antics there,” May Jani, a Penticton resident, told Global News.
“I’m on the homeless side, they need their help too. But this city is not the place for it. This is a retirement community where people just want to be left alone and live a quiet life,” said Randy Browning, a Penticton resident.
The Penticton Mayor was not available for an interview but did supply a statement:
“Council has listened and by way of polls, petitions and letters, thousands of residents have told us that 352 Winnipeg Street is no place for a shelter, and we agree,” Penticton Mayor John Vassilkai, in an email.
“That is why the council denied renewing the permit and why we continue to oppose the facility at this location. We hope BC Housing will do the right thing and close the shelter.”
The BC Attorney General was also not available for interview but did respond to the newest legal action taken by the city.
“I’m disappointed to hear that Penticton City Council is pursuing legal action against BC Housing,” said David Eby, B.C.’s Attorney General.
“It appears that the best case scenario from Penticton’s perspective is that they spend $300,000 and increase the city’s street homeless population by 42 people. We will continue to work with Penticton city staff to respond to that city’s ongoing homelessness crisis, despite this lawsuit.”
Prior to announcing the court challenge, the city said spending up to $300,000 in legal fees was approved, “an amount that was favoured by the community following an April community poll on the subject.
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