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Controversial Penticton homeless shelter closing this week

All 40 residents at the shelter are moving to new units set up at Compass Court shelter on Main St.
The battle over Victory Church shelter is now over as the controversial temporary shelter is set to close this week. (Jesse Day Western News file photo)

It’s a year late but the emergency shelter at Penticton’s Victory Church is set to close this week.

Residents living at Victory Church will be moved to a permanent location at Compass Court which has 40 new shelter units.

“Based on conversations with BC Housing, Victory Church will be vacated and cleaned up by the end of the week,” said the city’s director of development services Blake Laven.

“With regard to Compass Court, there remains elements of landscaping and various site works still to be completed, but the units themselves can now be occupied,” he added.

In preparation for an increase in activity around Compass Court, along with a higher concentration of shelter services at this location, bylaw services and RCMP will adjust their patrols accordingly, said the city in a press release.

“Today’s news of the opening of new shelter services at Compass Court and the closing of the Victory shelter is the result of a great deal of work from many partners at all levels,” said Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki. “I would like to thank everyone who played a role in ensuring that some of our city’s most vulnerable population is safely housed.”

The Victory Church shelter was opened in November 2020 as a temporary emergency shelter. The city reluctantly approved the shelter on Winnipeg Street with the promise it would close by April 1, 2021.

But then BC Housing’s David Eby came in to say that it wanted to extend operations at the church. City council was vocal in its opposition and rejected BC Housing’s plan twice.

“As a councillor, we have a duty to all our citizens,” said Coun. Katie Robinson at the time. “Our council reluctantly approved a temporary, emergency winter shelter, and at that time council made an ironclad promise to that neighbourhood that this inappropriate location would be temporary.”

READ MORE: Penticton rejects extending Victory Church for 2nd time

Eby then used the government’s paramountcy powers to override the city’s decision, which led to the city suing the province.

The lawsuit was dropped in recent months once BC Housing came up with the plan to move the Victory Church residents to Compass Court.

READ MORE: Penticton drops lawsuit against BC Housing

Penticton District Society for Community Living (PDSCL) operates both Compass Court and Victory Church shelters.

“We’re pleased to be moving into our new location and are very appreciative of the investment support we’ve received from BC Housing,” said PDSCL CEO Tony Laing.

“Our operations are ready to re-commence at Compass Court. We’ll be working hard to effectively meet our outreach goals while ensuring our presence in the community is successfully incorporated.”

The outstanding work at Compass Court will be completed over the next few weeks and will improve the exterior appearance of the property, said the city.

This is what Compass Court (the former Super 8) currently looks like and will be housing 40 more people from Victory Church shelter this week. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
This is what Compass Court (the former Super 8) currently looks like and will be housing 40 more people from Victory Church shelter this week. (Monique Tamminga Western News)

Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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