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Feud between B.C. government, City of Penticton over temporary shelter continues

Click to play video: 'City of Penticton and BC government feud over temporary shelter continues' City of Penticton and BC government feud over temporary shelter continues
City of Penticton and BC government feud over temporary shelter continues – Apr 21, 2021

The B.C. government is conducting a count of those experiencing homelessness in Penticton.

That count was slated to take place last year but was delayed because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s really important to be able to find out how many people are living on the street or without proper accommodation, in order for the stats to come together to provide people with housing,” said Daryl Meyers, a Pathways Addictions Resource Centre employee.

Read more: Province to conduct homeless count in Penticton, B.C., on April 20

B.C.’s Ministry of the Attorney General said the survey results can help better direct support and services that will best help those affected.

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“Homeless counts give important baseline information on the estimated number, key demographic and service provision needs of people experiencing homelessness,” B.C.’s ministry of the attorney general said in a statement issued on Sunday.

The count is taking place amidst an ongoing battle between the city and the provincial government over the extension of a temporary housing shelter.

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, city council unanimously agreed that suing the B.C. government over the issue is a possible route they can take.

“The last resort of the actions that we are taking is to redirect staff to pursuing all injunction actions to the city through the courts, with the understanding that this procedure may cost up to $300,000,” said Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki.

Read more: 51% of survey respondents think Penticton should launch legal battle against B.C. in shelter dispute

City council also voted for the immediate closure of the shelter on Winnipeg Street and the relocation of the 42 residents that live there.

But without the cooperation from the B.C. government and BC housing, it appears those residents will not be moved at this time.

The city also pledges to continue to negotiate with the province, and will not be seeking legal action until council feels they’ve exhausted all other options.

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Read more: Penticton city council mulling options in feud over downtown emergency shelter

Penticton also revealed results from a public survey conducted in the city about the current situation between the city and the province.

The survey found that the majority supported Penticton city council in its decision not to approve a permit for the temporary shelter on Winnipeg Street to operate year-round.

Survey participants were also asked if city council should exercise its legal right to challenge the province in court, at a cost of around $300,000.

Fifty-one per cent agreed that the council should consider a legal challenge.

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