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)

Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

B.C.’s Attorney General David Eby has come out swinging only hours after Penticton’s mayor ran ads in newspapers urging the Premier to intervene in the homeless shelter dispute.

The tit-for-tat feud is ramping up again with Eby saying that those running the Victory Church homeless shelter are facing legal threats.

Only hours after the mayor’s ad went into several newspapers across Penticton and in the Victoria Times Colonist, Eby has already come out fighting back with a long reply.

The ad Mayor John Vassilaki had paid to put in various papers, including the Western News, urged Premier John Horgan to ‘immediately intervene’ against Eby exercising provincial powers to keep the Victory Church homeless shelter open.

The city refused to extend the temporary permit for the shelter passed its March 31, deadline, with Eby overriding the city by using the province’s paramountcy powers.

In the letter, the mayor said the city had a good working relationship with the province on homeless housing until Eby came along.

READ MORE: Penticton mayor urges BC Premier to intervene on homeless shelter issue

Here’s the rebuttal statement from Eby that was also sent to the mayor and council:

__

“The Times Colonist recently ran a paid advertisement from the Mayor of Penticton concerning the difficult and ongoing problem of homelessness in his community. Some parts of the advertisement were correct. Some were not.

“But I’m not going to quibble.

“The core of the issue is this: The Mayor of Penticton wants to close a fully occupied homeless shelter in Penticton. This would evict the 42 people who live in the shelter into the street, or a local park. There are no other shelter beds or homes available.

“To achieve this goal, the Mayor is supporting legal action against the non-profit that runs the shelter. As a result, the people doing the work of sheltering and supporting the homeless in Penticton are now facing legal threats from the city. I talked to these workers. They’re kind and dedicated. Just the right people to help those in distress. They could easily give up, but they won’t. I’m grateful for that.

“The Mayor’s advertisement ran in this Victoria-based newspaper. This is strange, because Victoria is one of the best models of provincial and municipal cooperation in British Columbia right now. Our governments have a signed a partnership agreement to address the homelessness crisis in city parks. We’re reaching a significant milestone this week as the city begins again enforcing park bylaws related to camping, and the final campers move inside to spaces made available by the province.

“In Penticton’s newspaper, a story ran about the city fencing in Penticton’s well-known Gyro Park bandshell. The fence is intended to stop people from sleeping under the bandshell, among other undesirable activities. On the issue of fencing the bandshell to keep Penticton’s homeless out, the Mayor blamed BC Housing. He said: “I just hope BC Housing is paying attention to the mess they’re creating.”

“Similar news stories run regularly in Penticton about homeless structures, tents, homelessness, drug use, poverty, and related bylaw enforcement. They’ve run for many years now. That’s because Penticton has a serious and interrelated homelessness, mental health and addiction problem.

“I try to imagine how this long-term problem in Penticton will be improved if the Mayor manages to put another 42 people out into the street. I wonder how leaving 42 people with nowhere to go at night will make seniors in Penticton feel safer or address crime rates, which is what the advertisement said the Mayor wants.

“By contrast, in Victoria a “tiny homes” development finishes construction this week. 30 people who currently live in a park will move in this Friday. These homes were built through a unique partnership between the city, a private developer, neighbours, donors, volunteers, and the provincial government. It’s an inspiring example of how partners can work together to lift up people in distress.

“The tiny homes site is a pilot project. BC Housing has not joined in on a tiny homes project like this before. Everyone is hoping it will be successful, but there’s always the risk of problems. It is only the strength of partnership that allows us all to take this chance and try something new. Partnership makes it possible to respond quickly to local opportunities. Those 30 people would still be in a park next week if we didn’t have a strong partnership with Victoria. Instead they’ll be housed.

“Penticton’s residents, housed and unhoused, deserve the benefits of partnership too. My door remains open.”

BC HousingHomelessHousing and HomelessnessHousing crisis

Just Posted

Kaleb Robertson at bat during the 18UAAA North Island Cubs season opener against the Cowichan Valley Mustangs on June 19, 2021. Photo by Sean Feagan / Black Press Media.
PHOTOS: Minor baseball players and fans welcome return to play

18UAAA Cubs start regular season action after long wait with convincing win against Mustangs

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

New literacy framework will allow teachers to assess whether students have the necessary skills to become strong readers, and intervene early if they need help. Photo by Marissa Tiel/Campbell River Mirror
Campbell River school board creating new literacy framework

New plan aims to reverse declining literacy in SD72

Duncan Hurd says his fence has been smashed multiple times in the past month. Photo courtesy Duncan Hurd
Vandalism escalating in Campbell River neighbourhood, resident says

Neighbours want to see vandals ‘identified’

Kandi Kehler has just over two weeks left in her rental, but doesn’t know where she is going to go next. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
12 days left: Campbell River family at end of lease with nowhere else to go

Biggest fear coming to life for Campbell River mom

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Most Read