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)

Minister Eby receives warning over ‘dangerous precedent’ in Penticton shelter dispute

UBCM president says Eby’s decision to use paramountcy powers undermines local government autonomy

The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) is backing Penticton city council and their dispute with housing minister David Eby who has exercised provincial powers to keep the Victory Church homeless shelter open.

In response to city council’s April 13 request for support from the UBCM on the shelter dispute, president Brian Frenkel has written a letter to Eby, urging the province to commit to working in collaboration with local governments.

The letter, sent to Eby on May 19, acknowledges concerns expressed by Mayor John Vassilaki regarding Eby’s use of provincial paramountcy to overrule council’s decision to not extend the temporary permit at the Victory Church shelter.

“We are concerned that the application of statutory immunity sets a dangerous precedent and undermines local government autonomy as established in legislation,” the letter from Frenkel reads.

The Community Charter confirms that municipalities and their councils are an order of government within their jurisdiction that is “democratically elected, autonomous, responsible and accountable” and must operate under strict statutory conditions associated with public consultation and public interest.

The Local Government Act grants local governments the powers and flexibility required to respond to the needs of their communities within that mandate, said Frenkel.

The letter concludes by inviting Eby to join UBCM in exploring a dispute resolution mechanism that could be used as an alternative to the application of statutory immunity.

Mayor John Vassilaki was pleased that Frenkel sent the letter.

“I appreciate Mr. Frenkel sending his message of collaboration to Minister Eby,” said Vassilaki.

“Council is elected locally, they are accountable locally and the sites for housing shelters like 352 Winnipeg Street should be decided locally. As the province has overridden local housing decisions elsewhere in B.C., Penticton city council is standing up to defend local autonomy and the ability for our residents and businesses to have a say in what’s best for their community.”

On May 12, Vassilaki wrote a letter to Premier John Horgan urging him to ‘immediately intervene’ with Eby’s decision to use provincial paramountcy powers to override council’s decision. The letter ran in Penticton newspapers and in the Victoria Times Colonist.

READ MORE: Mayor runs ads in newspapers urging Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Within hours of the letter running in the Victoria paper, Eby jabbed back, laying out a rebuttal sent out to media through his communications staff.

READ MORE: Eby jabs back after mayor’s ad urging Premier to step in

The operator of the shelter, Penticton and District Society of Community Living, told the Western News that it will continue operating, following provincial direction.

According to the City’s communication manager Philip Cooper, Horgan has not yet provided a formal written response to council.

The city’s next step if Horgan doesn’t reply is to sue the provincial government.

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


@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Municipal Government

Just Posted

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
No words to express collective grief: Vernon mayor on 215 buried at residential school

Vernon mayor pens letter to Okanagan Indian Band Chief and council

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

A fire deliberately set in a washroom facility in Vernon’s transit terminal could cost the city around $25,000 to repair. (City of Vernon)
Burned-out bathroom could cost Vernon $25K

Despite changes made by city, vandalism on the rise at transit loop loos

A storm watch has been issued for the Okanagan, Kootenays and Columbia regions of B.C. (Calvin Dickson photo)
Another severe thunderstorm watch issued for the Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for thunderstorms that may produce strong wind gusts, hail and heavy rain

A young child has been taken to hospital after being struck by a vehicle on 30th Avenue in Vernon Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Investigation ongoing after child struck by vehicle downtown Vernon

A young child was taken to hospital Friday with undetermined injuries

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Four golfers from Fairview Mountain Golf Club in Oliver will golf from sunrise to sunset to raise funds for ALS on June 29. (Submitted)
Golfing from sunrise to sunset in Oliver for ALS

Four golfers from Fairview Mountain Golf Club have taken up the challenge June 29

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ restart plan

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Jann Arden will embark on Canada-wide tour Spring 2022 with a stop in Penticton at the South Okanagan Events Centre on June 13. (Contributed)
Jann Arden schedules Okanagan stop on 2022 Canada-wide tour

The Jann Arden Live! tour has been rescheduled for 2022

Cody Bandsma practises kiting with his new paraglider wing at Blackburn Park in Salmon Arm on Wednesday, June 9, 2021. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
VIDEO: Cody Bandsma reaching new heights over the Shuswap

Former 100 Mile resident discovers Salmon Arm by air with powered paraglider

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

David Larsen, left, and co-host Tony Peyton. (K96.3/Twitter)
Popular Kelowna radio host dies after battle with cancer

David Larsen was half of the longtime Kelowna morning-show duo David and Tony

Most Read