The 62 modular units under construction on Winnipeg Street in Penticton will be ready for tenants this fall.
The project, being constructed by Metric Modular, was expected to be open by spring. The project is part of the province’s push to build supportive housing for the homeless or those at risk. When it opens, it will be managed by the ASK Wellness Society.
“We are anticipating occupancy for Sept. 1. It’s already taken quite some time, and they’re experienced with delivering housing projects, so we’re pretty confident that Sept. 1 (is when) we’ll open up the occupancy of the building,” said Bob Hughes, Ask Wellness executive director.
The location for supportive housing has been a contentious subject, starting when it was proposed in 2018 for a location near Main Street and Green Avenue. Council at the time voted against rezoning the area, so BC Housing purchased the properties at 594 and 600 Winnipeg St. for the project instead.
City staff and volunteers recently cleaned out a homeless camp established within Esplanade Park, collecting a total of 74 needles. Roughly 20 homeless people were residing in the camp, which has re-established less than a month after it was taken down.
Hughes said ASK Wellness has a good track record with operating housing, noting they take into consideration the neighbours in the area.
The building is flanked by the Christian Science Church on one side and St. Saviour’s Anglican Church, which hosts the Soupateria, on the other.
He explained the building will not be drug and alcohol-free.
“In our experience of operating this type of housing, and really, people in any type of apartment building, they have the right to privacy. The way we look at it is we’re not going to constrict people from consuming alcohol or other substances. That’s not our business necessarily,” said Hughes. “But whether it’s alcohol or drugs if it’s interfering with other people’s privacy or safety—either for residents in the building or people outside—then we’ll address that.”
Hughes said this is not the only project underway in Penticton to address the housing crisis. OneSky Community Resources, Catalyst Community Developments, the City of Penticton and BC Housing are partnering on a project to build 56 affordable housing units at 285 Nanaimo Ave. West. The Western News requested interviews and information about these housing units from OneSky Community Resources but did not hear back by press deadline.
“This will create, for the first time in the community with these projects online, housing that will be able to support the community, which is a very significant issue in the City of Penticton. I think everybody is just feeling the lack of affordable housing and, particularly, the lack of supportive housing for those struggling to stabilize their mental health and health issues,” said Hughes. “This gives them a place to be to get the services they need. That’s been our goal with the Winnipeg site.”
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