Penticton mayor John Vassilaki and Minister of Housing David Eby have been battling over the Victory Church shelter and BC Housing projects in the city. (File photos)

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki and Minister of Housing David Eby have been battling over the Victory Church shelter and BC Housing projects in the city. (File photos)

Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

B.C.’s Attorney General David Eby has come out swinging only hours after Penticton’s mayor ran ads in newspapers urging the Premier to intervene in the homeless shelter dispute.

The tit-for-tat feud is ramping up again with Eby saying that those running the Victory Church homeless shelter are facing legal threats.

Only hours after the mayor’s ad went into several newspapers across Penticton and in the Victoria Times Colonist, Eby has already come out fighting back with a long reply.

The ad Mayor John Vassilaki had paid to put in various papers, including the Western News, urged Premier John Horgan to ‘immediately intervene’ against Eby exercising provincial powers to keep the Victory Church homeless shelter open.

The city refused to extend the temporary permit for the shelter passed its March 31, deadline, with Eby overriding the city by using the province’s paramountcy powers.

In the letter, the mayor said the city had a good working relationship with the province on homeless housing until Eby came along.

READ MORE: Penticton mayor urges BC Premier to intervene on homeless shelter issue

Here’s the rebuttal statement from Eby that was also sent to the mayor and council:

__

“The Times Colonist recently ran a paid advertisement from the Mayor of Penticton concerning the difficult and ongoing problem of homelessness in his community. Some parts of the advertisement were correct. Some were not.

“But I’m not going to quibble.

“The core of the issue is this: The Mayor of Penticton wants to close a fully occupied homeless shelter in Penticton. This would evict the 42 people who live in the shelter into the street, or a local park. There are no other shelter beds or homes available.

“To achieve this goal, the Mayor is supporting legal action against the non-profit that runs the shelter. As a result, the people doing the work of sheltering and supporting the homeless in Penticton are now facing legal threats from the city. I talked to these workers. They’re kind and dedicated. Just the right people to help those in distress. They could easily give up, but they won’t. I’m grateful for that.

“The Mayor’s advertisement ran in this Victoria-based newspaper. This is strange, because Victoria is one of the best models of provincial and municipal cooperation in British Columbia right now. Our governments have a signed a partnership agreement to address the homelessness crisis in city parks. We’re reaching a significant milestone this week as the city begins again enforcing park bylaws related to camping, and the final campers move inside to spaces made available by the province.

“In Penticton’s newspaper, a story ran about the city fencing in Penticton’s well-known Gyro Park bandshell. The fence is intended to stop people from sleeping under the bandshell, among other undesirable activities. On the issue of fencing the bandshell to keep Penticton’s homeless out, the Mayor blamed BC Housing. He said: “I just hope BC Housing is paying attention to the mess they’re creating.”

“Similar news stories run regularly in Penticton about homeless structures, tents, homelessness, drug use, poverty, and related bylaw enforcement. They’ve run for many years now. That’s because Penticton has a serious and interrelated homelessness, mental health and addiction problem.

“I try to imagine how this long-term problem in Penticton will be improved if the Mayor manages to put another 42 people out into the street. I wonder how leaving 42 people with nowhere to go at night will make seniors in Penticton feel safer or address crime rates, which is what the advertisement said the Mayor wants.

“By contrast, in Victoria a “tiny homes” development finishes construction this week. 30 people who currently live in a park will move in this Friday. These homes were built through a unique partnership between the city, a private developer, neighbours, donors, volunteers, and the provincial government. It’s an inspiring example of how partners can work together to lift up people in distress.

“The tiny homes site is a pilot project. BC Housing has not joined in on a tiny homes project like this before. Everyone is hoping it will be successful, but there’s always the risk of problems. It is only the strength of partnership that allows us all to take this chance and try something new. Partnership makes it possible to respond quickly to local opportunities. Those 30 people would still be in a park next week if we didn’t have a strong partnership with Victoria. Instead they’ll be housed.

“Penticton’s residents, housed and unhoused, deserve the benefits of partnership too. My door remains open.”

BC HousingHomelessHousing and HomelessnessHousing crisis

Just Posted

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

South Slocan’s Ti Loran is among the recipients of this year’s Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
Neil Muth Memorial Scholarships awarded to 4 students

Students in Creston, South Slocan and Revelstoke are sharing the honour

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

A wildfire near Cottonwood Lake was put out by Nelson firefighters Sunday night. Photo: Submitted
Wildfire extinguished near Cottonwood Lake

Lightning-caused fire was near one of Nelson’s water sources

West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Central Mountain Air leaving Castlegar airport in July

The airline says market can’t handle two airlines

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read