A protest has been planned for March 5, 2020 over Penticton council’s decision to reject an application from BC Housing to keep an emergency winter shelter open over a year longer than originally planned. (Jesse Day - Western News)

A protest has been planned for March 5, 2020 over Penticton council’s decision to reject an application from BC Housing to keep an emergency winter shelter open over a year longer than originally planned. (Jesse Day - Western News)

‘Bring your tent’: Protest planned in Penticton’s Gyro Park over winter shelter closure

Protesters plan to show council ‘what the result of their decision will look like’

A group of Penticton residents have planned a protest to voice their concerns over city council’s refusal to allow a temporary winter shelter to stay open.

The Victory Church winter shelter at 352 Winnipeg Street in downtown Penticton was originally approved by council to continue its operations on an emergency basis until April 1, 2021.

Due to a lack of alternative housing options for the 42 residents the shelter currently houses, BC Housing asked the city to keep the shelter open for an additional year until March 31, 2022.

Council quickly and unanimously shot down the request on March 2. Councillors and the mayor cited safety and security concerns and a lack of transparency from BC Housing as the main reasons for their decision.

Now, a group of concerned residents is organizing a protest in opposition to council’s decision.

The protest, advertised in a Facebook group called Penticton Overdose Prevention, will take place Friday, March 5 at 2 p.m. across from city hall at Gyro Park.

“Please join us in taking a stand against the decision city council has made to not extend this vital service in our community,” reads a post in the group.

Organizers, led by local harm reduction advocate Desiree Franz, encourage protesters to bring tents and set them up in Gyro Park to “show city council what the result of their decision will look like come April 1.”

If the shelter is forced to cease operations on April 1, all 42 residents will be displaced.

B.C. Housing Minister David Eby was outspoken against council’s decision, stating he believes the city has put itself at risk of creating a tent city. BC Housing is currently trying to find homes for people living in tent cities in Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo.

Eby said he fears Penticton is flirting with a similar situation.

“We simply can’t have a situation of another encampment in the province that’s deliberately created,” Eby said. “We can’t afford to go backwards in Penticton.”

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki took issue with Eby’s comments, saying he does not believe a homeless encampment will establish as one never has in past years when winter shelters close. Vassilaki said Eby’s comments were “irresponsible” and that Eby was “using fear-mongering in order to get his way.”

“I will not be intimidated by him or anyone else when it comes to the safety and the welfare of the City of Penticton,” Vassilaki said.

The poster posted in the Facebook group ‘Penticton Overdose Prevention’ calls for residents to set up tents in Gyro Park in protest of council’s decision to close a winter shelter Apri1 1, 2021. (Penticton Overdose in Penticton’s Gyro Park Prevention / Facebook)

READ MORE: ‘Disappointed and baffled’ housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

READ MORE: Penticton mayor calls out BC Housing minister for ‘irresponsible fear-mongering’



jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Housing and Homelessness

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

Just Posted

Lori Jantz snapped this picture of a fight between a bald eagle and an osprey above Osoyoos Lake on Friday. (Lori Jantz photo)
Battle in the sky erupts above South Okanagan lake

Bald eagle and osprey fight mid-air in Osoyoos

This garbage bin behind a strip mall in Skaha Lake Road was set alight on Friday night at 11 p.m. The foam from firefighters can be seen on the ground. (Facebook)
Dumpster fire comes too close to Penticton seniors’ complex

One resident worries Penticton might have a fire bug

Theo's now delivering to Summerland
Penticton Greek restaurant now delivering to Summerland

Theo’s restaurant is the first to deliver food to Summerland in their ‘Squidmobile’

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen will speed up the process for hospitality businesses looking to set up patios during the latest COVID-19 restrictions. Under the most recent restrictions, indoor dining is prohibited, but patio dining is allowed. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen speeds up patio permit approval

Initiative to help hospitality businesses affected by latest COVID-19 restrictions

Firefighters responded to a house fire on Banks Crescent in Summerland on Friday afternoon. The fire began as a stovetop fire but resulted in significant damages. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Fire results in damage to Summerland home

Crews called on Friday, April 9 following stovetop fire

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.[CDC]
More COVID-19 exposures reported at schools in Kelowna

Interior Health added additional schools and dates to their list of exposures

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

A Salmon Arm artist worked with talented local fabricators to create an enormous set of steel bighorn sheep horns to greet visitors to Radium Hot Springs. (Village of Radium Hot Springs image)
Salmon Arm locals’ skills bring steel sheep horn sculpture to Radium

Adam Meikle and Idea 64 Projects made the towering horns a reality

Most Read