Area of concern

A man on Tuesday morning walks past Compass House in the direction of Village Square, the owner of which is calling for the city to help protect his business from residents of the social housing complex.

Just over a year after it opened, a social housing complex in the heart of Penticton has apparently worn out its welcome.

City council at its meeting Tuesday voted unanimously to have its Safety and Security Advisory Committee come up with options for dealing with concerns surrounding Compass House.

Located in the former Super 8 Motel at 1736 Main St., the first 16 units of 40 supportive housing opened in May 2019, while a 30-bed emergency shelter opened in June 2019.

Immediately north of the site is Village Square, a small strip mall that is now struggling to survive, according to owner Robert Lougheed.

“Our tenants, their employees, our staff have complained regularly about the residents next door and their presence near our shops and businesses,” Lougheed wrote in a letter to council.

“On the business leasing side of this situation, we have lost three long-term tenants and when we try showing our available empty space we are inevitably confronted with the neighbours constantly visiting and hanging out by our mailbox in groups for doing drugs.”

Lougheed closed with a request for the city to give its bylaws extra teeth to deal with such nuisances.

Mayor John Vassilaki said Lougheed isn’t alone in his concerns and it’s time for action.

“We can’t continue to have those folks in that area destroy private property, and it’s costing the neighbourhood many tens of thousands of dollar to repair the damage being done by the folks who live in that facility,” said Vassilaki.

“We do have the power to do something about it through our ticketing process or pulling back their licence for operating in that space. Something has to be done, otherwise it will continue to get worse and worse as time goes by.”

Coun. Katie Robinson noted the facility operator, the Penticton and District Society for Community Living, committed in advance to being a good neighbour and “clearly that’s not being done.”

“As councillors, we went into these programs clearly seeing the need for housing. However, if it’s going to start causing problems to neighbouring businesses and taxpayers, I have a problem with that,” said Robinson.

PDSCL executive director Tony Laing did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Council sat with just six members Tuesday, as Jake Kimberley continues recovering from a stroke that left him hospitalized last week.