BC Housing is waiting on approval for a development permit to begin building a 54-unit facility at 3240 Skaha Lake Road. (City of Penticton / BC Housing)

BC Housing is waiting on approval for a development permit to begin building a 54-unit facility at 3240 Skaha Lake Road. (City of Penticton / BC Housing)

Penticton’s Skaha supportive housing project still in development limbo

Council did not grant full approval to the requested development permit despite BC Housing’s request

The supportive housing development on Skaha Lake Road is still in development limbo after Penticton council heard from BC Housing on Tuesday, Aug. 17.

BC Housing’s director of development for the Interior, John Brendan McEown, attended virtually to speak to the letter he had sent to council, after BC Housing’s request for a development permit was stalled at the July 20 council meeting.

That meeting ended with council adding a stipulation that the permit be granted subject to an agreement being reached between BC Housing and the city to ensure future operations of the site are satisfactory.

READ MORE: Penticton’s request over Skaha housing project denied by BC Housing

Coun. Julius Bloomfield at that meeting and again on Aug. 17, proposed that agreement being in the form of a ‘performance bond’ that BC Housing would be required to pay into.

“When BC Housing bought the land at Skaha, they didn’t tell the city. Every move made by BC Housing is made without consultation with the city,” said Bloomfield. “Everyone wants this project and I have faith in who is going to run it but we need a housing agreement or performance bond.”

McEown spoke to how, in his experience and research, BC Housing had not found any development that used a ‘performance bond’ as was suggested by Bloomfield.

All members of council reiterated the need for the recovery beds that the supportive housing would offer, and their support for the project, as well as their caution following previous dealings with BC Housing.

“BC Housing is one of the largest developers in Penticton. We want to do what is best for Penticton, not the developer. In the past we took BC Housing’s word and once bitten, twice shy,” said mayor John Vassilaki. “We can’t afford to take that chance again.”

McEown proposed either updating the city and BC Housing’s current Memorandum of Understanding, or implementing a housing agreement, as possible ways forward to assure both council and the community that all of the necessary supports and operation for the facility are done properly.

The letter from BC Housing was received by council without releasing the development permit, with negotiations to continue between BC Housing and the city ahead of a future agreement and approval of the permit.

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