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Homeless campsite sought for Vernon’s most vulnerable

Overnight space needed with city’s .7 per cent vacancy rate
Temporary encampments around town have prompted politicians to look at a designated space for the homeless to set up their tents and RVs. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star file)

An emergency overnight camping site is being sought for people without safe and secure housing.

Councillors Teresa Durning and Kelly Fehr brought forward a notice of motion at the Monday, Aug. 15 council meeting for Vernon to consult with Kelowna and other communities who operate such sites for the homeless.

City staff would need to identify what lands could be used for an emergency camping site, which would be open from sunset until 9 a.m. the following day, seven days per week.

Council has already designated the new Civic Memorial Park and Kin Athletic Park as no overnight camping zones.

Vernon currently has a .7 per cent vacancy rate which makes housing extremely difficult to secure regardless of income.

“The Province of BC has seen housing and rental costs skyrocket over the last year which makes securing housing in Vernon within a .7 vacancy rate market out of reach for most people making minimum wage or on a fixed income,” the two councillor’s rationale reads. “As a result, emergency measures must be put in place to provide a safe environment for people who do not have safe and secure housing to sleep in at night.

“Providing a designated location will reduce the number of unattended and abandoned campsites.”

Providing garbage cans will also reduce the amount of litter that camps can often produce.

Outhouses would also be included.

“When people who are housing insecure do not have washroom facilities to access at night, they are required to find less than humane locations.”

Coun. Scott Anderson also put forward a notice of motion to create a bylaw that would give officers more power to act on complaints of permanently parked and occupied RVs on city streets.

“Councillors have received numerous complaints by citizens and commercial enterprises that have been directly affected by the RVs parking on 25th Avenue,” Anderson’s motion reads. “Existing bylaws do not supply bylaw officers with the tools they need to address the situation, nor does the city have alternative locations or suggested locations for the RVs.”

READ MORE: Threatening flyers distributed throughout Vancouver tent encampment: police

READ MORE: Vernon shifts towards infractions for RVs parked on city roads


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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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