Vernon city council votes in favour of BC Housing opening 20 emergency winter beds on Oct. 28, 2019, to serve street entrenched population. (Lisa Mazurek - Morning Star files)

Vernon city council votes in favour of BC Housing opening 20 emergency winter beds on Oct. 28, 2019, to serve street entrenched population. (Lisa Mazurek - Morning Star files)

20 emergency winter beds for Vernon homeless

Mayor writes to BC Housing for help after learning shelters already turning away people

Twenty emergency winter shelter beds from BC Housing will be open for people in the former Gateway building experiencing homelessness in Vernon following the city council meeting on Monday, Oct. 28.

“Shelters are already turning people away,” Mayor Victor Cumming said, noting after he learned this, he sent a one-paragraph letter to BC Housing for assistance and received prompt word “indicating willingness to open a temporary winter shelter.”

The temporary shelter at 2800-33rd Street will run Nov. 1 and end on March 31, 2020, BC Housing said. The site will be accessible 24-7 and food services will be provided.

“We are aware that there can be neighbourhood impacts and our goal is to always mitigate that wherever possible,” supportive housing advisor Matthew Camirand wrote in his letter to mayor and council.

Vernon’s chief administrative officer Will Pearce said there is approximately 160 people who are experiencing homelessness according to preliminary findings of the latest homeless count that took place on Oct. 16, 2019 — findings are to come before councillors in November.

Of those 160, approximately 20 still require beds, the mayor said.

“The additional proposed 20 emergency beds will help accommodate some of those folks that are without shelter right now,” Pearce said.

But councillors Brian Quiring, Scott Anderson and Dalvir Nahal had concerns.

Coun. Anderson said additional services are not attracting homeless people or poor people, but people who are “prone to causing trouble.”

“It seems we’re creating more of a problem by creating more services,” Coun. Anderson said. “We’re becoming an experimental ground for BC Housing. It’s not fair for the people of this city.”

Coun. Anderson’s statements echoed those of his colleague.

“We tell everyone in the neighbourhood that everything is temporary and then we just keep landing on into that neighbourhood,” Coun. Quiring said. “Every time we add 20 beds, 40 more come.”

“I’m not having a hard time with the concept (of adding more beds), Mr. Mayor, I’m having trouble with the location.”

“We’re consolidating a specific group in one area and it was a problem and we said, ‘bear with us,’ and ‘it’s temporary,’ and now it’s becoming permanent and expanding,” Coun. Quiring said. “I don’t think it’s fair at all.”

But Coun. Quiring voted in favour of the motion to accept the emergency beds from BC Housing, to be operated by Turning Points Collaborative Society 24-7. Councillors Nahal and Anderson voted in opposition.

Coun. Kelly Fehr had recused himself as he is the co-executive director of Turning Points.

READ MORE: Vernon physiotherapist pleads guilty to nine counts of sexual assault

READ MORE: Case of missing B.C. senior with Alzheimer’s renews call for Silver Alert


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Armstrong’s Jesse Crowe, shown at the home of golf, St. Andrew’s in Scotland, has been named the Royal York Golf Course’s director of golf operations. (Facebook photo)
Armstrong golf pro soars to home course position

Jesse Crowe becomes director of golf operations at Royal York Golf Course

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
Despite additional death, COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional loss in last day

Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Shuswap firefighters responding to structure blaze find cannabis grow operation

RCMP investigating, attempting to track down owner of property

Two North Okanagan-Shuswap rural communities, including Lumby, will receive B.C. government grants to support new jobs and economic opportunities to help them recover from the impacts of COVID-19. (Black Press file photo)
North Okanagan-Shuswap communities collect government grants

Lumby and Blind Bay to benefit to help recover from economic impact of COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Students from Summerland’s Okanagan College often posed for photographs on the Big Rock. The rock was on the northern slope of Giant’s Head Mountain. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Summerland’s Big Rock had been desposited during last ice age

Rock was once a prominent feature on Giant’s Head Mountain

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: The freedom to read

Books have been challenged many times in the past

The dam at Thirsk Lake, west of Summerland, was expanded in 2007. A crack has now been discovered where the old and new portions of the dam meet. (Summerland Review file photo)
Crack at Thirsk Dam to be examined

Reservoir west of Summerland was expanded in 2007

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Most Read