Mayor Andrew Jakubeit says he is aware of the recent shooting incident and other problems at the Fairhaven social housing project.
The RCMP announced Friday they were seeking witnesses to a shooting that occurred the evening of Nov. 6 at the converted motel in southern Penticton, though the RCMP weren’t called to investigate until the next day.
“Investigators have confirmed that three individuals walked into the parking area of the single floor complex and approached the door to one of the units. Shots were fired in the direction of the unit and towards the parking lot area. To date it appears as though no one was hurt during the incident, and we are now seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the suspects,” said Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.
“The CAO (Peter Weeber) and I did have a briefing from the RCMP on Friday,” said Jakubeit, who said the city and RCMP both are following up on problems at Fairhaven.
“I think there has been some improvements made, but also some things that B.C. Housing needs to address and some things that Interior Health needs to address,” said Jakubeit. “My understanding is that some of those conversations the RCMP initiated and we are also following up on.”
RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager did not respond to a request for comment on the public’s concerns over the social housing units. However, his recent quarterly report to Penticton council included a map showing only slightly more calls in the general area of Fairhaven; the area marked on the map also includes shopping and commercial areas.
The 42-unit Bel Air motel was purchased by the Province of B.C. last year, renamed Fairhaven and converted to social housing. A similar project is in the works for the former Super 8 motel, expected to go into full operation next summer as Compass Court.
Jakubeit said the concept behind Fairhaven was to create transitional second-stage housing, dealing with those at risk or vulnerable.
“Predators preying on the most vulnerable in their most vulnerable times is not what the concept was geared to help facilitate,” said Jakubeit. “We will also lobby and advocate for B.C. Housing and Interior Health to recognize it and put changes in place. B.C. Housing are really the ones that are operating Fairhaven.”
Jakubeit said the concept of social housing is important and needed in the community.
“Everyone acknowledges the importance. What they disagree on is the location,” said Jakubeit, adding that it is frustrating that “bad apples” are taking advantage of a system intended to provide helping services so people can regain some dignity and get their life back in order, start contributing to the community and leading a full life.
“This all sounds great in theory. It is an issue that is larger than Penticton; it is throughout the whole province,” said Jakubeit. “We’re trying to be proactive, so people who are dealing with mental health or homelessness or addiction are getting the services they need so they aren’t causing the community further problems. “
RCMP investigators are looking to identify two individuals involved in the Nov. 6 shooting: one male described as wearing a black ball cap, light-coloured ski jacket, dark pants and shoes; and one female described as wearing a dark-coloured hooded jacket, light-coloured pants and shoes, carrying a rectangular backpack.
The Penticton RCMP are urging anyone with information who has not already spoken to investigators, to contact the General Investigation Section at 250-492-4300 or for those wishing to remain anonymous to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.