The City of Penticton is working with its partners, which include the federal and provincial governments, to achieve our community’s housing and homelessness goals. During the past five years, we have established opportunities to increase affordable housing stock, including adopting policies within the Official Community Plan (OCP) to support these efforts. In addition, Penticton City Council continues to seek a long-term location for a shelter and has directed staff to work with the Safety and Security Advisory Committee for recommendations of suitable solutions. This page outlines some of the recent initiatives and projects.
Aug. 3, 2017: Council supports Compass Court
July 20, 2018: 62-unit project housing planned for homeless in Penticton
May 9, 2019: 'Compass Court' opens
Nov. 20, 2019: Penticton's new housing project sees fatality, more issues
June 11, 2020: City starts new social development manager
July 7, 2020: Compass House wearing out welcome
July 7, 2020: Fed up with nearby shelter
Dec. 16, 2020: Over 50 new supportive homes coming to Penticton: BC Housing
Jan. 20, 2021: Few new details about supportive housing project
March 12, 2021: Victory Church shelter budget set at $1.7M
March 23, 2021: Legal challenge over shelter?
Jan. 13, 2021: Letter from Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki to Housing Minister David Eby titled RE: 3240 Skaha Lake Road Supportive Housing Project’s Public Engagement Process, seeking information about the supportive housing project proposed for 3240 Skaha Lake Road.
Feb. 8, 2021: BC Housing Overview: Engagement for Skaha Road Supportive Housing, providing information regarding 3240 Skaha Road.
March 2, 2021: Letter from Housing Minister David Eby to Mayor John Vassilaki and Council, titled Penticton Supportive Housing Outcomes: Proposed Scope of Work.
March 8, 2021: BC Housing to Penticton Mayor and Council, titled Re: 352 Winnipeg Street, Penticton, asking Penticton to reconsider its rejection of BC Housing's application.
March 11, 2021: Mayor's letter, titled: 352 Winnipeg Street, Penticton, in response to the previous letter and providing some clarification on a number of items.
March 11, 2021: Mayor's letter to Housing Minister David Eby, titled: Re: Letter dated March 2, 2021, about the supportive housing project at 3240 Skaha Lake Road.
March 18, 2021: Mayor's letter to BC Housing, titled: 352 Winnipeg Street, Penticton, detailing City Council's passed resolution to "deny the request to reconsider the rejection of BC Housing's temporary use application for an emergency shelter at 352 Winnipeg Street until March 31, 2022."
March 19, 2021: BC Housing letter to Mayor and Council, titled: 352 Winnipeg Street, Penticton, confirming "BC Housing's intention to continue to operate the 42-bed emergency shelter at the Property...".
April 19, 2021
The results of two community surveys, completed March 31 through April 10 for the purpose of formalizing public feedback around Council’s March 2 decision not to renew a temporary use permit for the operation of a winter shelter at 352 Winnipeg Street, will be presented to Council during their upcoming April 20 meeting.
In summary, a general public survey generated 3472 responses and a random sample survey of the City’s 5700 Shape Your City active member database generated 421 responses. Key findings from the surveys include:
• When asked their view of Council’s decision to not extend the permit for the temporary shelter, 64 per cent of the public survey agreed or strongly agreed with this decision compared to 61 per cent of the random sample survey.
• When asked their view of the Provincial Government’s decision to invoke its powers to overrule the decision of Council, 66 per cent of the public survey disagreed or strongly disagreed with this decision compared to 67 per cent of the random sample survey.
• When asked their view of exercising the legal right to challenge the Province in the courts at a potential cost of between $200,000 and $300,000, 51 per cent of the public survey agreed or strongly agreed compared to 39 per cent of the random sample survey.
• When asked whether they support Council requesting that BC Premier, John Horgan, intervene with the goal of the Province and the City working together on a solution, 78 per cent of the public survey agreed or strongly agreed compared to 85 per cent of the random sample survey.
“Council will discuss the survey results in detail during tomorrow’s meeting,” said Penticton Mayor, John Vassilaki. “Today I want to thank the thousands of Penticton residents from across the spectrum of our community who answered Council’s call for feedback. The Province’s failure to prioritize feedback has triggered the situation we’re now facing, a situation that pits neighbour against neighbour and government against government. Regardless of your position on this issue, thank you for participating.”
The complete results of both surveys are available on www.shapeyourcitypenticton.ca
During Tuesday’s meeting, staff will also present several recommendations for Council to consider as possible next steps. The recommendations include:
- Directing staff to continue to negotiate solutions with the Province, BC Housing, the landlord, and operator to immediately close the 352 Winnipeg Street temporary winter shelter and respectfully transition all 42 current shelter stayers into other housing situations.
- Directing staff to continue to work with the landlord to reduce nuisances and calls-for-service (Bylaw, fire, and RCMP) under the Good Neighbour Bylaw, and for the City to take the appropriate measures to designate 352 Winnipeg Street as a Nuisance Property under the Good Neighbour Bylaw if nuisances and calls-for-service do not immediately stop.
- Directing staff to draft a letter on behalf of the City formally requesting that the BC Premier immediately intervene in the issues around the 352 Winnipeg Street temporary winter shelter, including the Province’s intentional acts to contravene Council’s two unanimous and lawful decisions not to extend a Temporary Use Permit at 352 Winnipeg Street and the City of Penticton’s Zoning Bylaw.
- Directing staff to begin pursuing all injunctive actions available to the City through the courts, with the understanding that this procedure may cost up to $300,000.
Due to the time needed to compile and review the survey results, both the survey findings and the associated staff report recommendations will appear as a late item on the April 20 Council meeting agenda.
April 13, 2021
On behalf of City Council, Penticton Mayor, John Vassilaki, has sent a letter to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) President, Brian Frenkel, requesting UBCM prepare a letter to BC Premier, John Horgan, supporting Council’s position that the Province’s recent use of Paramountcy is a violation of two Council decisions and the City’s zoning Bylaws.
“My letter to Mr. Frenkel made it very clear that the issue at hand is a matter of land use and cooperative planning between two levels of government,” said Penticton Mayor, John Vassilaki. “The Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, David Eby, would have British Columbians believe that the City of Penticton is not doing its part to support the housing crisis. This is simply not the case and information provided directly from the Minister shows that Penticton has the highest number of supportive housing beds per capita in the interior region. All of these beds were developed with Penticton Council’s input and with respect for Council’s role in the decision making process.
“Today our previous working relationship of bilateral cooperation has been replaced by a unilateral hammer that puts our residents at risk of having the Provincial Government plan our community. As such, Council has reached out to Mr. Frenkel and the UBCM membership at large to seek their support in reversing the Province’s conduct towards Penticton, or any other community they disagree with.”
Between March 31 and April 10, 2021, the City of Penticton will survey its residents for the purpose of formalizing public opinion around Council’s March 2, 2021 decision not to renew a temporary use permit for the operation of a winter shelter at Victory Church (352 Winnipeg Street). Council declined the permit on several grounds, including that the shelter was originally intended as a temporary, winter solution only and, in the following months after the shelter opened in November 2020, had become a nuisance property negatively impacting nearby residents and businesses, lacked wrap-around support services and was demanding a high volume of Bylaw, Fire Dept and RCMP response resources.
Following the March 2 decision, combined with a subsequent decision made March 16 where the March 2 decision was upheld following a request from BC Housing to reconsider, Penticton City Council, by way of comments in a majority of received emails and petitions, has heard mostly support for their position on the shelter.
Given this support, combined with the Province’s stated intention to overrule the decision of an elected City Council, the City of Penticton is prepared to exercise its right to challenge the Province in court. This course of action is, however, not without significant challenges and, based on legal advice, would require the City spend from $200,000 to $300,000.
With the goal of obtaining broad-based Penticton resident feedback indicating whether or not the City should challenge the Province, Council is seeking the community’s opinion by way of a short formal survey, available either online or by phone.
“By their nature, difficult decisions trigger considerable feedback. The matter of the Victory Church shelter is no exception and to date Penticton Council has received mostly consistent support for its March 2 decision,” said Penticton Mayor, John Vassilaki. “However, for Council to act in the best interest of the whole community, and in keeping with past community issues involving strong interest or expense, conducting a formalized feedback process is the right thing to do to ensure we hear all perspectives. Whether you live near the shelter, away from the shelter or in the shelter, please share your feedback.”
Until the survey is completed and the results presented back to Council, the City will take no immediate action on the matter of the shelter. However, the public is advised that the shelter operator, Penticton & District Society for Community Living, has been sent a letter notifying them that, as of April 2, 2021, their Temporary Use Permit expires and they should be working with the City to relocate residents to alternative accommodations. In addition, the City has also sent a letter to the building owner Pentictonia Holdings Ltd, advising them that their property at 352 Winnipeg Street has triggered 12 service calls to the Bylaw Department since the beginning of 2021 and that the City wishes to work with them on solutions to making this property less susceptible to the types of calls being received and help reduce instances of nuisance complaints from the surrounding neighbours.
“Amongst all the attention this issue has generated, it’s critical to note that, by way of the Province's provided data, when it comes to creating solutions for the homeless and working with our partners to address housing, no City has provided more supportive housing per capita than Penticton and the Province is now using paramountcy at the first disagreement. Any claims to the contrary are uninformed and counterproductive to keeping the conversation focused on the issues before us – creating long-term, properly placed solutions, equipped with supportive wrap-around services, and finding ways to prevent individuals from experiencing homelessness in the first place”, said Vassilaki.
Penticton residents are encouraged to complete the survey March 31, through April 10, 2021.
Residents with Internet access can go to:
Individuals without Internet access can dial:
PLEASE NOTE: callers will be asked to leave their contact information and an operator will call them back to complete the survey during daytime hours. This service will be available daily through to the close of the survey on April 10, 2021.
March 18, 2021
Concerning the extension of a temporary use permit allowing the old Victory Church property to be used as a year-round shelter beyond March 31, 2021, Mayor John Vassilaki has sent a letter to BC Housing restating Council’s decision not to renew the current permit. While the City of Penticton has been made aware of Minister Eby’s reaction to Council’s March 16 decision, it is currently waiting for written correspondence from BC Housing formalizing their intention to continue operating their shelter. Once that correspondence is received, any future course of action concerning the Victory Church shelter will be publically discussed during a Council meeting in April.
Updated: March 23, 2021
Every year, Penticton has increased winter shelter capacity, which traditionally closes at the end of March. Last year (November 2019 – March 2020), the increased capacity was at Compass House. Due to COVID-19 health guidelines, this increased capacity could not be at Compass House and BC Housing needed a different location.
City Council approved a one-time, temporary use permit for a winter shelter at 352 Winnipeg Street from November 2020 to March 2021, which was the only location option BC Housing or the Province had provided.
On Dec. 15, 2020, the Province of British Columbia and BC Housing provided a media release that stated it purchased land at 3240 Skaha Lake Road for housing initiatives, including supportive housing. This purchase was completed without consultation with Penticton City Council. Since the media release, City Council has tried to obtain additional information from the Province and BC Housing.
On March 2, 2021, BC Housing, against its own commitments to City Council and the residents of Penticton, applied to continue operating the temporary winter shelter at 352 Winnipeg Street year-round until at least March 2022. Council denied this application as Council had originally made a one-time commitment to the temporary shelter being at 352 Winnipeg until only March 2021.
Penticton City Council continues to seek a long-term location for a shelter and has directed staff to work with the Safety and Security Advisory Committee for recommendations of suitable solutions.
- Oct. 6, 2020: Council tabled a Temporary Use Permit application from BC Housing until October 20 and asked that BC Housing and PDSCL, the shelter operator, present additional information to Council.
- Oct. 20, 2020: PDSCL attended the Council meeting. Based on BC Housing’s application and PDSCL’s presentation, Council approved a temporary permit for an emergency winter shelter until March 2021.
- Dec. 20, 2020: Meeting with BC Housing staff to understand the rationale for the project, and requesting that BC Housing provide Council with any data/statistics/reports/strategies showing the need for additional supportive housing in Penticton.
- Jan. 13, 2021: Letter to the Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing outlining Council’s concerns with the proposed supportive housing project at 3240 Skaha Lake Road.
- Jan. 26, 2021: Meeting with the Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing to outline Council’s and the community’s concerns with the project at 3240 Skaha Lake Road.
- Feb. 3, 2021: Second meeting with the Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing.
- Feb. 8, 2021: The Province sent a copy of the community engagement process for 3240 Skaha Lake Road to Council.
- March 2, 2021: The Province sent a copy of a proposed evaluation of Penticton supportive housing to Council.
- March 2, 2021: City Council denied BC Housing's application to extend the temporary use permit at Victory Church.
March 16, 2021: Based on a written request from BC Housing, City Council reconsidered its March 2 decision.
Interview with the Mayor
Watch this Global BC clip to listen to an extended interview with Mayor John Vassilaki.
Projects & Initiatives
In the past five years, Penticton City Council has supported the development of three new supportive housing programs (Burdock House, Compass House and Fairhaven), supported the construction of a larger shelter at Compass Court, and contributed to lower cost housing options such as Backstreet Apartments and the Rise on Nanaimo.
Just recently, City Council updated the Official Community Plan to support housing for Indigenous persons on Main Street, and City Council entered a Memorandum of Understanding with the South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society to develop new housing along Galt Avenue.
Penticton City Council has been a good partner when it comes to housing and homelessness:
- Applied for a $450,000 grant from the Union of BC Municipalities to support services supporting individuals.
- Contributes all donations to the Kindness Metre to groups such as 100 More Homes.
- Has supported numerous developments of shelters, supportive housing, and lower cost housing options by expediting applications, waiving Development Cost Charges, providing permissive tax exemptions, providing enhanced staff support, and waiving other fees.
- City inspectors, such as fire and building officials, will typically expedite any requests it receives from an operator of shelter, supportive housing, and other lower cost housing options.
- Has worked with community partners to bring in housing and homelessness experts, such as OrgCode Consulting, Inc.
- Provide funding to the RCMP for a mental health coordinator.
- City staff attend 100 More Homes meetings.
- City staff and members of City Council attend the Community Advisory Committee meetings that exist to ensure there are strong relationships in the community between non-market housing programs and the neighbourhood.
- Municipal services such as the fire department, RCMP, bylaw services, and social development provide direct and indirect supports and services to individuals experiencing homelessness and individuals participating in a housing program.
- At the urging of groups, such as 100 More Homes, and for many other reasons it hired a social development specialist to support the social well-being of Penticton. The Social Development department works collaboratively with community partners on policy, strategies and finding opportunities to maximize Penticton’s resources in order to best support a socially well community with a strong social fabric.
- To ensure community safety, the City self funds a needle clean-up program for needles left in inactive encampments.
The following resolutions have been passed by Penticton City Council in recent months to support the safety and well-being of Penticton.
February 19, 2019
- Full Social Support Services for Homeless Housing
"WHEREAS the Province through BC Housing has invested in creating housing for those individuals struggling with homelessness;
AND WHEREAS individuals experiencing homelessness are often in need of social services;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Province ensure all forms of social services (mental health services, addiction services, social assistance services, employment services, etc.), also referred to as “wrap-around services”, are available to individuals housed in homeless housing at the housing site or within a short walking distance."
- Addition of Drug and Alcohol Recovery Facilities and Beds
"WHEREAS an opioid crisis has been identified in British Columbia, and addictions can also take many other forms such as alcohol and other drugs, with addictions being so detrimental to an individual’s health and well-being;
AND WHEREAS there are not enough Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation/Recovery Facilities and spaces available for those who are seeking help to combat addictions;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Province fund significantly more licensed rehabilitation facilities and beds in every municipality to enable all those who seek assistance in recovering from addictions and opportunity to beat addictions."
March 19, 2019
On March 19, 2019, Penticton City Council supported a resolution to establish a Community Active Support Table (CAST) for high-risk individuals, and individuals with complex needs. When incorporated into a community safety and well-being model, a CAST is a best-practice in connecting individuals to immediate supports.
July 21, 2020
On July 21, 2020, Penticton City Council, in response to concerns from the community about the emergency shelter in Penticton, asked BC Housing, Interior Health Authority, and the Province to make enhanced investments to better support individuals staying at the shelter.
“THAT Council continue to support City Staff’s efforts to encourage BC Housing Management Commission (“BC Housing”) to continue with its 24-hour security neighbourhood pilot project, including regular patrols of the neighbouring properties.
THAT Council send a letter to the Interior Health Authority (IHA) Board stating that the Main Street Compass Court site was approved with the understanding of IHA’s investment/participation in supports – both by IHA having a physical presence on the site and a financial investment – and encouraging IHA to follow through on its commitments to the site.
THAT Council direct City staff to work with IHA and other community partners to advocate, in a coordinated effort, to the Ministry of Health for increased funding for new, integrated health supports focused on individuals’ permanent housing stability.
Council send a letter from the Mayor to request that the Minister of Health fund, as it does in some communities, the municipality’s costs associated with community sharp clean-ups efforts.”
March 2, 2021
During its March 2, 2021 meeting, Penticton City Council asked staff to bring back a report about enhancing Bylaw Services to seven days a week. Council also asked the Safety and Security Advisory Committee to work to develop location selection criteria for services such as shelters and supportive housing.
“THAT Council direct staff to bring back a report in April 2021 with details and funding options for additional community safety officers, within Bylaw Services, that would cover the hours from 6 am – 11 pm, 7 days a week, to strengthen the City’s response to the social and safety challenges the City is currently facing.
Council direct staff to work with the City’s Safety and Security Advisory Committee and bring back recommendations to Council on supportive housing and shelter location selection guidelines to ensure that any future facilities are located in locations that adhere to the criteria.”
March 16, 2021
During its March 16, 2021 meeting, Penticton City Council discussed correspondence from BC Housing. BC Housing had requested that Penticton City Council reconsider its March 2, 2021 decision to deny an application for BC Housing to operate what was described by BC Housing as a temporary, winter shelter at 352 Winnipeg Street year-round.
Watch Penticton City Council’s Discussion about the Victory Church Shelter:
Our Official Community Plan includes a goal to “increase housing affordability across the housing spectrum from subsidized, social housing to home-ownership options.”
Policies that will achieve this goal include:
- Working with partners such as BC Housing and non-market and market developers.
- Maximizing the housing potential of existing land.
- Supporting innovative models of affordable housing, such as modular, adaptive re-use and through technical and regulatory support.
- Continuing the efficient processing of residential development and building permits.
- Monitoring the vacation rental program to ensure short-term rentals are not having an adverse effect on rental housing.
In the Community
There are many ways we can all work together to contribute to our community’s safety and wellbeing. Here are some ideas.
- If you See Something, Say Something. This campaign and City webpage provides information about how to report a crime or suspicious behaviour.
- Participate in some COVID-friendly community safety and well-being activities:
- Clean-up your block/neighbourhood.
- Practice the After Nine Routine by ensuring that all of your personal property is secure (e.g., trailers locked, bikes securely stored) prior to going on with your evening.
- Meet your neighbours, from a safe distance.
- Apply for a Small Neighbourhood Grant, in partnership with the Community Foundation.
- Complete a do-it-yourself crime prevention assessment of your residence.
- Ensure that valuables are engraved with a serial number, and a copy of the number is stored in a safe place.
- Shovel your neighbours’ sidewalk if they are away so it looks like someone is home.
- Refer individuals you may know experiencing homelessness to Penticton’s outreach team (see information below).
- Write to the following individuals letting them know that you want enhanced federal and provincial investments in community safety and well-being:
- More housing that aligns with Penticton’s priorities.
- More mental health and substance use addictions services.
- Better delivery of health services.
- Our local MLA.
- Our Member of Parliament.
- Get involved in the City of Penticton’s Safety and Security Advisory Committee, or topic-specific groups such as 100 More Homes or the Community Action Team.
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, there are several potential services in the community that you may be able to access.
The Brain Injury Society offers two programs that may be of interest: One program is around homelessness prevention, and one is around housing outreach. To access either of these programs, please contact the Brain Injury Society.
You can also speak with BC Housing about the direct programs it offers.
100 Homes Penticton
The City of Penticton is a partner with 100 Homes Penticton, an initiative to end chronic homelessness. Since 2016, they have housed more than 145 people experiencing homelessness in our community. To find out more about the work they’re doing, or to donate, please visit the dedicated United Way webpage.
The City works closely with the following agencies to ensure adequate and affordable housing is available to the residents of Penticton.
- Aboriginal Housing Management Association, 1-888-921-2462
- South Okanagan Brain Injury Society, 250-490-0613
- Penticton and District Society for Community Living, 250-490-0200
- SAFER (Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters), 1-800-257-7756
Phone: 250-490-2512, Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m.