Penticton residents have launched a petition in an attempt to stop a temporary shelter for those experiencing homelessness staying in town longer than originally planned.
Victory Church shelter at 352 Winnipeg Street in downtown Penticton was opened as a temporary winter shelter in November 2020. The original intention was for the shelter, which has 42 beds, to stay open until April 1, 2021 as the city was experiencing a lack of shelter space due to COVID-19.
Penticton city council approved the shelter in October 2020, although they had many reservations. The shelter’s opening was delayed because the operator, Penticton and District Society for Community Living, was unable to get certain permits right away.
In February 2021, BC Housing applied to extend the use of the Victory Church building as shelter space for an additional year, until March 31, 2022.
Concerned residents and business owners near the Victory Church shelter have since launched a petition to stop the shelter from being granted an extension. The petition has garnered approximately 130 hand-written signatures and has been dropped off at city hall.
The petition, started by a business owner who wishes to remain anonymous, cites loitering, excessive noise, abusive language, litter, ambulances and police frequenting the area and “spitting mad, unpredictable individuals and a general tumultuous, destructive effect on our neighbourhood,” as reasons for not wanting the shelter extended.
The petition also claims that many people have abandoned their regular parking spots close to the building out of fear for their “person and property.”
Penticton city council will discuss their options regarding the shelter today (March. 2) in their council meeting. Council is expected to either look further into the process of extending the shelter or deny the application outright.
The petition is asking the city to not allow the shelter to become “permanent” although no application to make the space permanent has been made. The current application from BC Housing is to extend the shelter for one year.