Penticton city council wants to set up guidelines of where shelters and supportive housing can and can’t go.
Suggested no-go zones proposed are near Okanagan and Skaha beach, Gyro Park, the Rose Garden, Main Street, the 100 to 300 blocks of Martin Street and more.
A special Safety and Security Advisory Committee meeting will be held Monday, April 19, at 10:30 a.m. to discuss the guidelines for supportive housing and shelter placement.
City staff are recommending that the safety committee support the location selection guidelines that would apply to any shelter (emergency overnight shelter, a daytime shelter, an extreme weather shelter, harm reduction shelters, and/or temporary winter shelters) and any form of supportive housing development.
The following guidelines are being proposed:
• Must be a minimum of 150 metres away from K-12 private and public schools.
• Must be a minimum of 150 metres away from Marina Way Beach, Okanagan Beach, Skaha Beach, Gyro Park, Lakawanna Park, Marina Way Park, Okanagan Lake Park, Rose Garden, Skaha Lake Park, and SS Sicamous.
• The property must not front any of the following highways: Lakeshore Drive, Main Street (100-700 blocks), Martin Street (100-300 blocks), Riverside Drive, Skaha Lake Road, and Westminster Avenue.
• And it should consider, where possible, not to be near businesses that rely on foot traffic, and residences/homes for older adults/seniors, and should be near health/medical services.
Staff recommend that the Safety and Security Advisory Committee finalize its location selection guidelines and forward these to council for consideration and adoption.
The role the city plays in identifying specific locations/sites for shelters and supportive housing is to ensure that a specific site selected by the province, BC Housing, a shelter operator, and/or anyone else, meets the guidelines adopted by council and other relevant city policies and legislation.
City council is expected to discuss its decision on whether or not take legal action against the province and BC Housing. The province used its paramountcy powers to override the city’s bylaws to keep the Victory Church temporary shelter open.
Minister of Housing David Eby asked the city to extend the temporary permit being used for the church shelter. The permit expired March 31. Since then, the province has stepped in to pay to keep the shelter open indefinitely.
To take legal action would cost city taxpayers upwards of $300,000. Penticton city council went to the public through a survey to see if they want to legally challenge the province for overriding the city’s decisions around the Victory Church homeless shelter. That survey closed April 10.
In the meantime, a homeless count will get underway in Penticton this week, paid for by the province but conducted through outreach workers.