Homeless shelter future fuels simmering dispute between province, Penticton council

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PENTICTON, B.C. — The future of a homeless shelter at the centre of a dispute between the British Columbia government and the City of Penticton was debated by council today without any immediate change in the municipality's position.

Earlier this month, 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.

Coun. Katie Robinson called the shelter a "legalized drug den," while Coun. Julius Bloomfield suggested starting immediate talks with the province about homeless housing, a proposal that council voted against but placed on the agenda for its next meeting in early April.

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.

After publicly discussing the shelter for more than an hour, council adjourned to meet behind closed doors to consider legal issues affecting the city.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2021.

The Canadian Press