Susan Lehman

Downtown Vernon encouraged by council steps

Association reacts to council moves on 46 Activate Safety Task Force recommendations

It was a lot to digest for the Downtown Vernon Association.

Executive director Susan Lehman, plus staff and board members, sat through the entire three-hour-plus deliberations of the Activate Safety Task Force’s 46 recommendations by Vernon council Monday.

The DVA was part of the task force, advocating for its nearly 590 members.

Monday’s council agenda also included a nearly two-hour presentation from the Social Planning Council of the North Okanagan, which the DVA works in collaboration with to find solutions for business issues and concerns.

“We saw city council encourage a stronger collaborative relationship with the Interior Health Authority (particularly in the areas of work around the opioid crisis); a commitment of additional resources to bylaw and the community safety office (including the relocation of the bylaw office to a more central location downtown); a clear understanding regarding the expectations around enforcement of graffiti, litter, panhandling and observe, record and report to RCMP activities; and of course, a continuance in communicating with businesses regarding the enforcement and education resources that are available to all,” said Lehman.

As the public nuisance of improperly discarded needles has been receiving much attention lately, there has also been much discussion and solution finding efforts in Vernon.

“The DVA looks forward to the installation of four permanent tamper-proof containers for used needles and will continue to work with the community safety office in educating and assisting businesses when this type of litter is found at their business,” said Lehman. “The DVA will regularly update the Harm Reduction Action Team on areas of concern so that collection efforts can be focused on ‘hot-spots’.”

Lehman said her association is looking forward to learning what plans the city has for additional, secure and safe public restrooms as the DVA believes this will alleviate some of the negative impacts the current lack of facilities has in the business improvement area.

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