The city of Penticton is now listening to Interior Health’s direction and has cancelled the in-person public hearing scheduled for this evening, Dec. 7.
On Thursday, the Western News spoke with Interior Health about in person public hearings and they said that under the new restrictions, indoor gatherings like public hearings are not permitted.
The public hearing is in regards to a proposed affordable housing project on Main Street that would go up five-stories instead of three. The hearing was scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
On Friday, the city responded to the Western News, saying that they would go ahead with in-person public hearings despite Interior Health saying no.
“So long as there are adequate COVID-19 safety protocols in place, to date we have not received any formal direction that public hearings cannot proceed. Should we receive further direction, we will adjust, but as of now we will be proceeding with the Dec. 7 Public Hearing,” city communication manager Philip Cooper said on Friday.
Interior Health said the restrictions are clear.
“The city should be seen as a leader in this,” said Interior Health environment specialist Greg Baytalan last week. “The restrictions apply to public hearings.”
To have your say at tonight’s public hearing will be through Zoom, phone and email.
In fact, the public is now restricted from attending all local government meetings and public hearings in person, said the press release sent out Monday morning.
Most municipalities across the Okanagan have already done this. The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has gone virtual for all its meetings. A recent public hearing in Oliver was done virtually.
The public hearing tonight is on a controversial project that already has letters of opposition sent to city hall as well as letters to the editor.
At issue is going against the Official Community Plan’s regulation of three-storey buildings for downtown and for parking demands with such a large development.