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

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack woman’s 100-km birthday marathon to benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

RCMP investigating June 15, 2021 crash. (Black Press file)
Chilliwack RCMP say crash into median led to impaired driver investigation

Chrysler 300 driver allegedly collided with tree on Spadina median in June 15 incident

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Abbotsford council has given permission for Chilliwack to use the JAMES wastewater treatment plant for the disposal of trucked liquid waste until the end of September.
Chilliwack gets exemption to Abbotsford bylaw prohibiting liquid waste from other cities

Process in place until September while new facility under construction in Chilliwack

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read