Penticton’s MLA and former mayor Dan Ashton is speaking out on the recent feud between mayor John Vassilaki and BC Housing minister David Eby.
The mayor and minister have been at a war of words over the city’s decision to deny BC Housing a one-year extension on a winter shelter that was originally intended to be temporary.
Ashton took to Facebook yesterday to share his thoughts on the situation, stating that he is “greatly concerned over the recent break down in communication” between the two parties.
“From my perspective it is important that BC Housing works proactively with the City of Penticton – as has successfully been done in the past with many projects over a long time frame,” Ashton wrote.
Ashton continued to say he believes full wrap around support in supportive housing and homeless shelters in Penticton is lacking.
The city was promised full support services for people struggling with mental health and addictions issues, Ashton said.
The city’s recently requested audit of BC Housing facilities would aim to establish what supports are offered and where they can improve, said Ashton.
“Unfortunately, in my view, and from others I have heard from, these wrap around services still do not exist here in Penticton,” Ashton wrote. “It is a fact that Penticton currently has no publicly funded abstinence-based treatment beds. Penticton also does not have any publicly funded detox facilities.
For many struggling with addictions requiring those services there remains serious challenges to access them. This needs to change.”
Ashton also voiced his concern over Interior Health’s recent move to cut funding to Pathways Addiction Resource Centre.
To be clear I share the concers over the potential loss of funding from Interior Health to Pathways ARC. https://t.co/AB5RPkABk6
— Dan Ashton (@DanAshtonBC) March 3, 2021
Interior Health announced they would withdraw funding to Pathways March 2. This week the Province announced that January 2021 was our worst on record for overdose deaths.
Ashton said Pathways has a longstanding relationship within the community that was built on trust. He’s “really concerned” that their services may become at risk.
The MLA compared the situation to the many challenges that were created when Interior Health changed its relationship with the Living Positive Resource Society.
“I am reminded these days of my fiercest critic, the late James Banko, who worked tirelessly to expose the many challenges created when Interior Health changed its relationship with the Living Positive Resource Society,” Ashton said. “As James was able to effectively establish, it was exceedingly difficult to transparently see how those same services were delivered effectively by Interior Health.”
Ashton hopes Pathways’ clients eventually will get answers as to what the recent changes mean to them.
“I believe Penticton’s most vulnerable who work with Pathways deserve to have a full understanding of what these changes mean to them and how these same services could be delivered in a way that builds upon the same level of trust that exists today,” he said.
Pathways has launched a GoFundMe page hoping to raise $500,000, which is the amount needed to continue to offer addiction services.
“Pathways may have to close its doors if funding cannot be found,” said executive director Daryl Meyers.
“Substance use and addictions is far reaching and the stigma that comes from it has enormous layers,” reads the statement on GoFundMe. “The best chance people have in triggering change is to work together to understand addiction and the effect it has on everyone. We have all been touched by substance use and addiction.”