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)

Penticton Chamber of Commerce pens letter of support in shelter battle

The letter included the results of a survey the chamber conducted with businesses

The Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce has thrown their voice behind Penticton city council regarding the ongoing dispute with BC Housing.

It is the latest addressed to a member of the provincial government over the Winnipeg Street shelter that is still operating out of the Victory Church building in Penticton.

The letter, addressed to Premier John Horgan, is dated May 25, 2021 and was sent by the chamber’s board of directors.

In it, the chamber writes of their support of Mayor John Vassilaki’s own letter to the Premier, which was posted in both local media publications and in the Victoria Times Colonist.

The President of the Union of B.C. Municipalities also spoke in support of Penticton’s council over the “dangerous precedent” being set by BC Housing and the provincial government.

READ MORE: Minister Eby receives warning over ‘dangerous precedent’ in Penticton shelter dispute

READ MORE: Mayor runs ads in newspapers urging Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

The full letter can be found below.

To Honourable John Horgan, Premier Province of British Columbia Victoria, BC V8W 9E1

Dear Premier Horgan,

“A catalyst in the community”

The Board of Directors of the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce is writing this letter in support of Mayor Vassilaki’s letter to you dated May 12, 2021, regarding the temporary shelter at Victory Church. This shelter has had a negative impact on our vulnerable senior population and on our business community.

We conducted our own survey with the Penticton business community with respect to their experiences with the change in their neighourhood since the shelter was opened. The following results reflect the observations and perceptions of those who responded to our survey.

* 61.82 per cent have found people sleeping in the doorway of their business or on the property

* 45.45 per cent have had to deal with human waste on or around their business premises

* 43.64 per cent have had complaints from their staff

* 40 per cent have had to involve the police

* 38.18 per cent have had customers and/or staff harassed.

We do not dispute the need to provide shelter and care for those experiencing homelessness however we do support our Mayor and the recent declaration from UBCM that the Province should allow local elected officials, who represent their municipalities, to decide where any future shelters should be located in their community. Furthermore, we strongly feel that the Province should provide additional funding to support shelters. This support would include but not limited to:

* funding for additional policing as a direct result in the increased risk of health and safety matters,

* funding for services to address addictions and mental health.

The Chamber understands fully that we need to ensure that the city’s most vulnerable are provided shelter. However, we ask that the Province work with the elected local officials and allow them to make decisions that best meet the needs of the community.

Sincerely,

Jonathan McGraw, CA, CPA

President, Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce

Cc

Honourable David Eby

Mayor Vassilaki and City Council

Executive Director, Downtown Penticton Association Chair, Tourism Penticton

Chair, Penticton Industrial Association

Chair, the City of Penticton Safety and Security Task Force

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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