Surveillance video, a bucket of dog poop and an apology.
According to the shelter operator, the Penticton and District Society for Community Living (PDSCL), the incident at Compass House was partially caught on surveillance video, with an employee witnessing the entire scene.
“We have video of the person going to and from the property with his bucket, but not the actual dumping,” CEO Tony Laing told Global News. “We are in discussion with the individual and their head office for resolution.”
Global News reached out to the alleged perpetrator, Al Mansfield, franchisee of the Penticton White Spot.
Mansfield spoke to Global News briefly on Wednesday morning, but he has not returned calls.
Homeless shelters in Penticton are in the spotlight following a feud between city council and the provincial government over a controversial shelter in the downtown core.
The Victory Church shelter opened in the fall and was given a temporary lease, which was to expire on March 31. BC Housing asked for a year-long extension, with council flatly saying no.
The provincial government then stepped in and overruled council’s decision, allowing the shelter to stay open. In response, though, city council is now asking the public if it should use public funds to fight the government in court.
In an interview with Global News, Laing said “the person was expressing his frustration that he had found feces on his own property that he blamed on the homeless people here in Penticton, and that this was the way he was showing his frustration.”
Laing said while surveillance video didn’t catch the actual dumping, an employee witnessed it.
“I was quite shocked,” said Laing. “Just totally shocked and speechless at the time.”
Later Wednesday, the president of White Spot Hospitality issued a statement regarding Mansfield.
“The actions on Tuesday morning by Al Mansfield, a White Spot franchisee in the Okanagan, were disgraceful and in no way represent the values of White Spot Hospitality,” said president Warren Erhart.
“Mr. Mansfield has expressed shame and remorse and apologized publicly for what he did at Compass House in Penticton.
“Nevertheless, we acknowledge the extreme severity of this situation and will be conducting a thorough investigation into this matter. Meanwhile, we have asked Mr. Mansfield to step back from the day-to-day operations of his business until we determine an appropriate course of action.”
In his comments to Global News, Laing said “rhetoric on the issue of homelessness in our city has gone from public discourse to actions that are totally unacceptable.”
“We have reached out in person to all our neighbours to mitigate the impacts of homeless persons in our neighbourhoods, not just the impact that shelter residents may have on neighbouring businesses,” Laing continued.
“There’s a lot of tension around this issue and a lot of rhetoric going back and forth. I think we need to take a step back and look at what are solutions, not what are the issues.
“We all understand what the issues are. What we want to do is work with everybody to come to a solution.”
The mayor of Penticton, John Vassilaki, also chimed in.
“It’s very regrettable that it happened. I wish it hadn’t,” Vassilaki told Global News. “We don’t condone any kind of action such as this.
“It’s an unfortunate situation that happened. It’s the frustration that the businesses and the public in certain areas of Penticton keep going through day after day after day that led to this.
“Like I said, it’s unfortunate that it happened.”
Penticton RCMP said they looked into the incident and said mischief charges aren’t likely, as “the person believed responsible has apologized and participated in the clean-up process, and therefore wouldn’t be in the public interest.”