The 52 units of affordable housing announced in April will take a bit longer in coming, thanks to a decision by Penticton city council this week.
The units are part of a provincially funded affordable development, something that doesn’t come along everyday. Not surprisingly, council heard both opposition and support for the project, including resistance from neighbouring residents, over the course of a lengthy public hearing.
Among their concerns was that the location, at Skaha Lake and Green Avenue, was too close to Princess Margaret Secondary and Skaha Lake Middle Schools. That argument fails on a couple of counts. First, the area is already home to different types of low-cost housing, from monthly motel rentals to the 45 units of supportive housing in Skaha Sunrise apartments.
As well, this is an affordable housing project, not a shelter. While the residents will be low income, that doesn’t automatically mean they are criminals, drug abusers or whatever label gets unfairly hung on the disadvantaged in our society. ASK Wellness has also promised there will be 24/7 support services to those living there.
Council sent B.C. Housing back to the drawing board to come back with a different plan for the property, hopefully one that will be brought forward soon. Penticton desperately needs affordable housing — we even hosted a valley-wide forum on the topic — and their decision could drop the priority of our community needs to zero with the provincial agency.
Council shouldn’t have rubber stamped this project, that would also be the wrong approach. But if they were seriously concerned about the issues being brought up, they shouldn’t have made the decision so quickly.
Council should have taken more time to think over the needs of the community as a whole.