Mayor John Vassilaki (File)

Mayor John Vassilaki (File)

Penticton mayor backpedals comments about making people with mental illness ‘normal’

“I didn’t mean it to come out the way people take it” says John Vassilaki

Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki said he didn’t mean to degrade anyone with his comments about making people ‘somewhat normal’ again.

The mayor’s comment came out during March 16’s heated meeting when council once again rejected BC Housing’s request to extend the Victory Church shelter’s temporary permit past March 31.

The mayor’s comment instantly caused a firestorm of criticism through social media, some calling on the mayor to resign.

The mayor has not tried to clarify his comments until this Tuesday when a Penticton reporter asked him if he’d like to speak on those comments.

During the discussion of the extension, Vassilaki said it was going to cost BC Housing $1.7 million to run the Victory Church shelter for 12 months.

That would be around $40,000 per person living in that shelter which has 42 beds.

“If they’re going to take this $40,000 per resident and put it into a Riverview, just think how much good they could do with those folks. Maybe they could get rid of their addictions and mental health issues and make them somewhat normal,” Vassilaki said during that metting.

On Tuesday, the Mayor offered his regrets for the words that he used.

“I didn’t mean it to come out the way people take it. Sometimes when you are in a meeting, and you are speaking you don’t have time to think of what word to use. Sometimes a not politically correct word comes out and that’s what happened in this case,” he said in Tuesday’s special meeting on the shelter.

“I didn’t mean harm to anyone or to degrade or belittle anyone whatsoever,” said Vassilaki.

“I’m not like that and I never will be.”

READ MORE: Penticton council holds closed meeting

READ MORE: Penticton council unanimously rejects Victory Church shelter extension a second time

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


 

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