Darrin Taylor, chairman of the Activate Safety Task Force, presents the 40 recommendations to Vernon council Monday, where residents and business owners packed city hall. (Jennifer Smith/Morning Star)

Force puts Vernon to task to tackle safety

Activate Safety Task Force makes recommendations to council

“The people of Vernon have waited long enough, it’s time for action.”

The words from the Activate Safety Task Force chairman Darrin Taylor summed up the sense of urgency behind the recommendations made to city council Monday afternoon.

Taylor presented the eight key areas which the force outlines in its final report, including 40 recommendations, alongside a packed council chamber. Homelessness, poverty, addiction and criminal behaviour have created issues for the local business community, which is what the force has sought to address in the following areas:

1. Enforcement

2. Drug use and prevention

3. Improperly discarded needles

4. Litter and urban decay

5. Defecation in public areas

6. Shopping carts

7. Graffiti

8. The relationship between social service providers and neighbouring businesses

See related: Vernon Activate Safety Task Force to present recommendations

Among the many suggestions, Taylor urged council to adopt a policy that Vernon will not stand for open drug use and crime.

“The city of Penticton is battling a similar issue and administration has stepped up with zero tolerance,” he said. “Setting the tone could possibly happen in short order. Currently, it sounds like Penticton has that in order.”

Specific issues include Interior Health’s plans for a safe injection site in Vernon.

“The unspoken fear is that those sites will open without any notice,” said Taylor, specifically for those living nearby.

The abundance of needles being found around town prompted the need for drop-off containers, which Interior Health has access to. The force was told that funding is available for two of such containers and Taylor urged council to match those two containers.

“Even four doesn’t sound like enough.”

A bounty could also be implemented — five cents for each needle turned in.

“Kamloops actually had such a program implemented two weeks ago,” said Taylor. “This program in the first eight days collected 6,000 needles.”

Other garbage strewn about town has led to urban decay.

“It’s not a new problem but it’s a problem that’s gotten worse,” Taylor said.

Suggestions include a change in garbage pickup times so that businesses don’t have to leave garbage out at night for early morning pickups.

Another mess — defecation and urination — needs to be addressed with facilities in the core area, said Taylor, adding that it could be funded from the 1.99 per cent infrastructure levy.

Shopping carts also litter the area, which the force suggests businesses can help combat by ensuring they all have theft-deterrent devices and that those being discarded are not accessible.

The city was also asked to facilitate mediation between social service providers and surrounding businesses/residents that are strained by the impact of these issues.

With the urgency to deal with the situation, several Vernon councillors agreed that many of these items could be acted on immediately.

“It’s not going to be easy implementing these as a lot of costs are associated,” said Coun. Catherine Lord. “But there are some really low-hanging things on here that can be implemented quickly.”

Coun. Brian Quiring requested that staff bring a report back to the next council meeting.

While he admitted that “we can always do a better job,” Quiring noted that the same situation is a lot worse in other communities.

“We know we have a problem. The reason the problem isn’t worse is the service providers, RCMP and bylaw are doing their job,” said Quiring.

Taylor agrees that Vernon is doing a terrific job, but more is needed.

“Do we stand back and say ‘every community has these problems, we’re doing lots, it could be worse?’”

“I’m hopeful we can do better. We can love the individual and we can hate the behaviour.”

Coun. Dalvir Nahal asked Taylor, an addictions specialist: “Is there something that we’re missing?”

The short answer, according to Taylor, is yes, due to the lack of immediate, long-term treatment that is not available for addicts.

“We’re dropping the ball on helping those patients get well.”

Coun. Juliette Cunningham defends that there are plans in place thanks address the issue of homelessness and housing.

“Really, until you can get a roof over someone’s head and deal with these issues, it’s going to be very challenging.”


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Activate Safety Task Force recommendations by Lenny Smith on Scribd

Just Posted

Power outage leaves 1,500 Vernon residents in the dark

BC Hydro restores Westside Road outage within an hour

Vernon woman collecting socks for less fortunate

Jennylee Cowie hopes to collect 100 pairs of socks to give to the Gospel Mission in Kelowna

UPDATE: Water back on for Vernon residents

Water main break shut water off temporarily to Okanagan Avenue homes; repaired Tuesday evening

Vernon’s Vasek Pospisil rolling at Davis Cup

Vernon player teams up with Denis Shapovalov to lead Canada into quarterfinals

WATCH: Coldstream garage fire as hot as 275 C: deputy fire Chief

Shop fire potential for ‘one heck of a fireworks show,’ O’Hara says

VIDEO: Ron MacLean says he doesn’t believe former co-host Don Cherry is racist

Sportsnet fired Cherry on Nov. 11, two days after controversial on-air comments during ‘Coach’s Corner’

B.C. woman puts call out for 10,000 personal, heartfelt Christmas cards for the homeless

Christmas Card Collective enters into third year of making spirits bright

No turn signals, double-parking among top concerns for B.C. drivers: poll

Two-thirds of B.C. drivers said that not using turn signals was their biggest pet peeve

PHOTOS: Patients pelt doctors with snowballs, all for BC Children’s Hospital

The snowball fight was to raise funds for the annual Snowball Fight for Kids Campaign

‘Our culture is not a religion,’ Indigenous educator tells B.C. Supreme Court in case of smudging at school

Mother also gave evidence Tuesday in Nanaimo courtroom, case continues Wednesday

Rocky start to Rider Express’ first year operating in B.C.

Company hopes to add a night bus between Vancouver and Calgary

B.C. man who killed Belgian tourist near Boston Bar gets life in prison, no parole until 2042

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

Escape Santa Claus’ workshop at Pritchard Hall

Players must find their way out of three puzzle-filled rooms

Court hears man’s multiple property crimes in Shuswap fueled by addiction

Accused completes sentence, states he’s ready to do good things

Most Read