New temporary shelter with 42 beds opens in Penticton, B.C.

A new shelter opened in Penticton Thursday. Global News

A new temporary shelter with 42 beds opened in Penticton, B.C., just as another facility closed, the province announced Thursday.

“This new shelter replaces Penticton’s Victory shelter … and will ensure that all of its guests continue to have a safe and secure place to stay,” David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing said Thursday in a press release.

The Penticton and District Society for Community Living helped secure the facility at 1706 Main St.

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Compass Centre has 42 private dorm-style rooms, shared washrooms, storage space and other amenities. It neighbours Compass Court, a 20-unit supportive housing building, and Compass House, another shelter with 30 beds.

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The Penticton and District Society for Community Living will operate Compass Centre.

The province said the society will have staff on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will provide guests with meal services, laundry, security and support accessing health and wellness services. The society also owns and operates the two neighbouring buildings on the property. Adding a second shelter to the site allows PDSCL to better provide support to guests by consolidating their resources at one location.

“PDSCL is pleased to have, once again, worked with BC Housing and the City of Penticton to find a new location for the Victory Shelter, now Compass Centre,” Tony Laing, executive director of PDSCL said in a press release.

“We continue to work with our neighbours to minimize our impact on them and their business, and we thank everyone for their work and dedication to getting this much-needed facility operational.”

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Outstanding work at Compass Court will be undertaken over the next few weeks and will improve the exterior appearance of the property. In preparation for an increase in activity around Compass Court, along with a higher concentration of shelter services at this location, Bylaw Services and RCMP will adjust their patrols accordingly.

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“Today’s news of the opening of new shelter services at Compass Centre and the closing of the Victory shelter is the result of a great deal of work from many partners at all levels,” said Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki. “I would like to thank everyone who played a role in ensuring that some of our city’s most vulnerable population is safely housed.”

The Province, through BC Housing, provided approximately $2.1 million for the construction of the new shelter and will provide approximately $1.7 million in annual operating funding.

In addition, BC Housing provided $430,000 to demolish the previous building on the site and a one-time startup grant of $60,000. PDSCL provided the land for the shelter.

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“We’re pleased to be moving into our new location and are very appreciative of the investment support we’ve received from BC Housing,” said Tony Laing, Penticton District Society for Community Living CEO.

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“Our operations are ready to recommence at Compass Court. We’ll be working hard to effectively meet our outreach goals while ensuring our presence in the community is successfully incorporated.”

The Victory Church shelter was a divisive community issue. Last July, the City of Penticton filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court over the controversial downtown emergency shelter, challenging the province’s decision to invoke paramountcy over the 42-bed shelter on Winnipeg Street.

Paramountcy is a little-used rule that allows the province to override local council decisions. According to the city, when B.C. invoked paramountcy, it was “a unilateral move to operate an intended temporary winter shelter at 352 Winnipeg Street as a year-round facility.”

The petition was dropped when the new shelter was announced.

“The announcement by the province to close the Victory Church shelter recognizes the voices of Penticton residents who, in great numbers, expressed their concerns surrounding the shelter,” said Mayor Vassilaki in a press release last December.

“(Equally as important), this is great news for Penticton’s most vulnerable who can now seek shelter and care in a facility that is built in an appropriate location.”

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