Despite the City of Penticton calling homelessness a “public crisis” last year, city council shot down a BC Housing proposal this week to build 52 units of modular housing at Skaha Lake Road and Green Avenue.
BC Housing said it is “disappointed” as there is an urgent need for supportive housing in Penticton. Last fall’s homeless count identified 163 people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Neighbour Mike Biden started a petition against the project and it gained 50 signatures.
He said neighbours were opposed to the proximity to three schools, the perceived impact on property values, and the concentration of supportive housing in one area.
The site already houses a transitional housing facility.
BC Housing regional director Ann Howard said the permanent facility would come with 24/7 staff and support services.
“It was very disappointing. It really means that we have 52 people in Penticton that will continue to live on the streets this winter,” Howard said.
“The housing shortage in Penticton really impacts the lower income people. There is less available units because of motels closing.”
City councilor Judy Sentes cast the only vote in favour of the rezoning application.
“I saw it as an attempt for a solution. It’s not perfect, no solution will be. I thought it was an opportunity to work together in partnership with BC Housing,” she said on Friday.
Penticton mayor Andrew Jakubeit said the deal is still on the table.
“Certainly the deal has not gone away, it’s just looking at a more suitable location that is not in proximity of three schools and in a neighbourhood that isn’t already having housing in there,” he said.
There is no timeline on when another location could be identified.
The commitment is part of the NDP government’s plan, announced in its September budget update, to build 2,000 units in communities across the province over the next two years.
WATCH ABOVE: BC Housing regional director Ann Howard expresses disappointment after Penticton city council rejects a homeless housing project in the wake of a housing “crisis.”