Minister of Housing David Eby called Penticton city council’s decision to try and close a shelter housing 42 people ‘disgraceful’ while opposition leader Shirley Bond called Eby a bully on Thursday morning. (File photo)

Minister of Housing David Eby called Penticton city council’s decision to try and close a shelter housing 42 people ‘disgraceful’ while opposition leader Shirley Bond called Eby a bully on Thursday morning. (File photo)

Opposition leader takes Minister Eby to task over Penticton shelter handling

The two politicians shared jabs during the Thursday morning session of the Provincial Legislature

MLA Shirley Bond, the Interim Leader of the B.C. Liberal Party, took Minister David Eby to task over his handling of the ongoing dispute between Penticton and BC Housing.

The exchange occurred during the Thursday morning (March 18) sitting of the Legislature, and began with Bond listing the communities of Maple Ridge, Kamloops, Nanaimo and Penticton that have had concerns about the lack of supports for those with drug addictions or mental health issues.

She accused Eby of “bullying elected officials,” ignoring their concerns, and cutting funding to Pathways addiction treatment when the city is calling for more mental health support funding.

Eby answered Bond’s question by laying out the two options he saw following Penticton council’s decision to reject extending the permit for the Victory Church winter shelter; either the people were emptied out and risk an encampment, or, as the Minister has chosen to do, use the province’s paramountcy powers to override council’s decision.

“The alternative is — as the member says, and I freely acknowledge this — to use what are quite draconian provincial powers to override that local decision and continue to operate the shelter,” said Eby.

Those powers will keep the shelter open beyond its original March 31 closure date, until BC Housing has finished construction of the supportive housing project on Skaha Lake Road and is able to place people in it.

The city of Penticton is awaiting the formal documentation from the province invoking the BC Interpretation Act before they decide on whether they go forward with legal action, Penticton’s Mayor John Vassilaki told Black Press on Thursday.

If the shelter is closed, the 42 residents currently there would be turned out onto the street, which was not an option for Eby and BC Housing.

“I say to the member and I say to the mayor and council in Penticton: that’s the only non-negotiable. The only non-negotiable is that we will not go backwards and move people out of shelter back into parks. Anything else is on the table. Let’s talk about it. Let’s work together.”

In a supplement to her original question, Bond accused Eby of suggesting that officials in Penticton don’t care about their residents, and that they were “shocked” when the minister decided to use actions instead of discussion with the council on the issue.

“Penticton was shocked when this minister, instead of sitting down and having thoughtful and reasonable discussions about an issue that matters to the local Penticton council and all British Columbians, started to bully and threaten that if they didn’t listen, it was his way or the highway,” said Bond.

“So let’s be clear. Penticton needs — and so do other communities across British Columbia — full, wraparound services to support people with mental health and addictions challenges. That’s what the Penticton council was asking this minister for. Instead, what do they get? Bullying and threats,” said Bond.

Eby said there is no evidence of bullying.

“The member suggests that because I said if Penticton emptied the shelter out into the park, an encampment would likely result, and that our use of provincial powers could result in a court challenge that would result in exactly that outcome. That we would provide tents and manage, as best as possible,” replied Eby.

“We have 1,000 tents in a stockpile. That’s right. We would provide tents to people as a basic shelter from the elements…. The member says that’s bullying. Well, that’s just a fact.”

Eby said he had two Zoom meetings with the city.

“Unfortunately, we found something we disagreed on. That was whether or not we should go backwards and dump 42 people out into a park. I will not withdraw that. That is a disgraceful decision.”

I am very sympathetic to municipal leaders in the time of COVID, facing addiction and mental health issues that are more visible than they’ve ever been. Our government is very sympathetic … We cannot go backwards. That’s the only non-negotiable.”

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


 

@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC HousingPenticton

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jessica McCallum-Miller announced on her Facebook page that she is the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation on April 17, 2021. (Jessica McCallum-Miller/Facebook)
Jessica McCallum-Miller to receive Lieutenant Governor’s Medal

Former Terrace councillor, Coast Mountain College student ‘honoured’

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Skeena Valley Farmers Market is expected to kick off its 2021 season from May 1, with COVID-19 safety protocols in place ( Skeena Valley Farmers Market/Facebook)
Skeena Valley Farmers Market on track to reopen next month

The first market day of the season will be held on May 1, at George Little Park

Coast Mountains School District 82 announced a shuffle of leadership positions in Terrace and the Hazeltons for the upcoming 2021/22 school year. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Coast Mountains School District 82 announces leadership shuffle

Several principal, vice-principal positions in Terrace affected

The Spencer family was overwhelmed by the support they received from the community after a fire forced them to move out from their home on Tuck Avenue. (Photo courtesy, Sabrina Spencer)
‘When the province and my own band failed us, Terrace community stepped up’

Sabrina Spencer was overwhelmed by the community’s support after their home burned down last month

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Most Read