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 paramountcy sparks Vernon vote

Heavy hand of B.C. government over homeless

The heavy hand of the provincial government over municipal efforts has sparked a debate of paramountcy.

Penticton was the latest local government to have a decision overruled by B.C. around supportive housing.

Housing Minister David Eby recently kept homeless shelters open in Maple Ridge and Penticton despite the individual city council’s efforts to close them.

READ MORE: Penticton homeless shelter to remain open, with or without council support, says Minister

The South Okanagan incident hit a little too close to home for a North Okanagan councillor, who said: “If municipalities are to govern effectively they must retain the jurisdictional ability to do so.”

Vernon Coun. Scott Anderson had hoped to convince his colleagues that the mayor should write a letter to UBCM and the provincial government asking that the paramountcy not be invoked to overrule municipal decisions.

“It essentially renders municipal council impotent and if we don’t take a stand it will happen again and it may well happen to us,” Anderson said at the Monday, May 25 council meeting.

Coun. Kelly Fehr, an advocate of individuals experiencing homelessness and those most vulnerable, couldn’t agree.

“We all make mistakes. We need someone to watch out,” Fehr said.

He is grateful the government has the fortitude to stand up for people, “when the city council is too ignorant or just does not care.”

Anderson’s motion was defeated.

READ MORE: B.C. Premier asked to intervene in Penticton homeless shelter dispute


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