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

The Northern Sea Wolf is set to arrive in Bella Coola June 19 and BCVT remains cautiously optimistic for a more “normal” 2021 season (Michael Wigle photo)
Summer ferry service to Bella Coola to start June 19

“We are optimistic for a good tourist season.”

A Category 3 fire ban will go into effect across the entire Cariboo Fire Centre beginning noon on Monday, June 21. (Pixaby photo)
Category 3 fire ban extends across entire Cariboo Fire Centre June 21

Campfires are still permitted, but no larger than half a metre high by half a metre wide

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation planning ground analysis of land near former residential school

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

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

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

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

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

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Most Read