Members on council were divided as to whether the City of Penticton needs a manager of social development to coordinate with local organizations and be a city representative in implementing initiatives targeted at homelessness, those with addictions, seniors and youth. (Google Maps image)

City of Penticton weighs need for a manager of social development

Members of council are divided on whether the position is necessary

Penticton city council is divided on whether or not the city should hire a manager of social development.

The idea for the position was brought forward by Coun. Julius Bloomfield on Oct. 15, saying the role would help coordinate homeless and addiction services as well as programs for seniors and youth.

Bloomfield made the case the position would help the city collaborate with local organizations to address social needs for the homeless population and would help the city implement services focused on engaging and helping seniors and youth in the community.

It was also noted that similar roles currently exist in other cities that face similar social issues, such as in Kelowna.

“This, in my opinion, is an investment that would save the city money in the long run. Maybe we won’t need those extra RCMP officers if we have an effective social development manager,” said Bloomfield.

“This position would not just work with the homeless and those with addiction, they would, in fact, cover work being done for seniors in the community and childcare in the community. It’s social development, so it’s not just one particular demographic in the city, it’s focusing on all the different parts that need coordination from the city.”

READ MORE: 100 Homes Penticton gets a new name after year of success

Not everyone on the council agreed with Bloomfield, with Coun. Katie Robinson stating it was “premature” for the city to be considering the position at this time and that the responsibilities the position would oversee are the jurisdiction of the provincial and federal government.

“I believe that this is probably going to be necessary sometime in the future, but I feel really, really strongly that this is provincial and federal jurisdiction,” said Robinson. “It should not be municipal jurisdiction. I’m very cognizant of the amount of money municipalities are spending when it gets downloaded on and we start dealing with health and social issues that should not be under our jurisdiction,” said Robinson.

Coun. Jake Kimberley said opposed the need for the new role.

“The issue for me is that the more you take on locally from the different levels of government, the more they are willing to give it to you and let you take it on. Then we have to prove it’s a necessity for our community,” said Kimberley. “And there are services in the community right now doing this. That’s what we’ve heard for the last few weeks anyway, is that the homeless are being taken care of.”

Coun. Judy Sentes spoke in favour of adding the position, stating it is timely and that waiting for a problem to arise would have a worse result. She said current city staff, such as planning manager Blake Laven, have already taken on tasks that would fall under this role, meaning time is being taken away from their other responsibilities.

READ MORE: Penticton council urged to consider finding student housing options

“I believe there is merit to this position,” said Sentes. “Our staff have full radars, and right now they’re trying to do this off the side of their desk so-to-speak.”

Despite being divided on the issue, the council voted in favour of discussing the issue during the upcoming budget discussions.

To report a typo, email:

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
Send Jordyn Thomson an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

After delays, Ighani presents no evidence

Afshin Maleki Ighani trail adjourned to Jan. 6

Penticton RCMP do not intend to review sexual assault stats

Eleven out of 29 sexual assault cases in Penticton were deemed unfounded in 2018

Make someone’s holiday a merry one with Penticton’s OneSky Community Resources

The centre has a special Christmas tree with gift requests from its clients

Penticton Fire Department urging caution with decorations

The Penticton Fire Department wants people to be careful with indoor and outdoor decorations

Penticton’s COBS Bread to host parking lot party with Penticton Vees Nov. 24

The event is to fundraise for the Nov. 30 Anti-Bullying Game Night

Get your head out of clouds, North Okanagan

Fall fog sticks around all day in northern portion of valley

Canucks erupt with 5 power-play goals in win over Nashville

Vancouver ends three-game slide with 6-3 triumph over Predators

65-million-year-old triceratops makes its debut in Victoria

Dino Lab Inc. is excavating the fossilized remains of a 65-million-year-old dinosaur

B.C. widow suing health authority after ‘untreatable’ superbug killed her husband

New Public Agency Health report puts Canadian death toll at 5,400 in 2018

Changes to B.C. building code address secondary suites, energy efficiency

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing

Security guard at Kamloops music festival gets three years for sexually assaulting concertgoer

Shawn Christopher Gray walked the woman home after she became seperated from her friends, court heard

Keremeos Fire Department acquires new truck

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen approves fire truck purchases for Keremeos, Willowbrook

Wharton Street in Summerland open for traffic once again

Road closure had been in place for past five months for upgrade work

Most Read