The Activate Safety Task Force will present its recommendations on issues such as homelessness, poverty, addictions and criminal behaviour on the local business community to Vernon council Monday. (Morning Star file photo)

Vernon Activate Safety Task Force to present recommendations

Group tasked with addressing homelessness, poverty, addictions issues prents to council Monday

Recommendations from the Vernon Activate Safety Task Force will be presented to Vernon council Monday at 1:30 p.m.

The group created by the city to address issues related to the impacts of homelessness, poverty, addictions and criminal behaviour on the local business community has completed its discussions.

The task force recommendations were developed over several months of weekly meetings, with significant input from the RCMP and Vernon bylaw.

“We addressed the issues the business community brought up at our April town hall and in private communication afterwards,” said Darrin Taylor, task force chairperson. “While some of the specific problems fell under other jurisdictions, we have been able to put together a number of common sense suggestions for the city that we think will be easy to initiate, affordable, and effective.”

RELATED: Drugs, prostitution and public defecation concern Vernon businesses

Taylor acknowledges that there are no perfect solutions to the problems created by homelessness, addictions, and criminal behaviour, but is confident that by following the recommendations of the task force, the city can significantly mitigate many of the problems that exist here now.

“The problems we think we can address immediately include improperly disposed of needles, shopping carts, graffiti, public defecation, and littering, just to name a few,” said Taylor.

Taylor declined to go into detail on what will be presented to council Monday.

“Those recommendations will be made to city council and I don’t want to get ahead of things here,” he said. “But I can say that we’ve been working with the Broken Windows theory in mind, which means it will take an effort by everyone, obviously, including enforcement measures, but also an extra effort by businesses, citizens, and the will of city officials to raise the bar and turn this city into what it could be.”

Taylor says there are palpable anger and frustration amongst the public and business community.

“One thing that’s become clear to me over the course of meeting with and talking to people in Vernon is the degree of frustration felt by both business owners and members of the public at what they see as the ongoing degradation of the city,” said Taylor. “But beyond the specific concerns of the business community, the larger issue is really what type of community we want to live in. Are we willing to throw up our hands and say we can’t do anything? I think we have to do better.”

Taylor, a certified addictions counselor and clinical interventionist with extensive experience dealing with street entrenched population, says the way the problem is being handled right now just isn’t working for either businesses or the street entrenched.

“People behave according to expectations,” he said. “If they are allowed to throw garbage all over the boulevard, leave shopping carts all over the place, and practice open drug use, not surprisingly that’s what they’ll do. Green-lighting that kind of behaviour by a hands-off approach does nothing to help the street entrenched at all. It merely creates problems for everyone else.”

Taylor compares the pristine environment in some other locations to spectacles like Linear Park, along 25th Avenue, in Vernon.

“I was recently in Whistler, and it struck me quite forcefully not only how clean and well kept it is, but the complete absence of any needles, open drug use, piles of garbage, or abandoned shopping carts. That didn’t happen by magic,” he

said. “I realize it’s a wealthy community, but the real reason it’s kept so beautiful is that the community, through a mixture of private and municipal enforcement measures, has raised the bar to the point that behaviour like [Linear Park] would be unthinkable.

“That spirit is reflected in its restaurants, stores, streets, and even in its bike paths. There’s absolutely no reason our streets can’t be the same.”

Voting members of the Activate Safety Task Force include Taylor, Vicki Eide, Rick Lavin, Selena Stearns and Kari Wilton. Non-voting members are Kevin Korol, Const. Kerri Parish, and Vernon councillors Scott Anderson and Brian Quiring.



newstips@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Darrin Taylor

Just Posted

Vernon Vipers edge out Trail Smoke Eaters

Trail’s season came to an end as the Vernon Vipers won Game 7 5-2

SPCA seizes 54 animals from Vernon property

Animals weren’t receiving adequate care

Vernon politicians not all happy about possible OD prevention site

Possible Overdose Prevention Site to open in the summer of fall of 2019

Animals seized from North Okanagan property

Animals to be seized not yet confirmed

Vernon eco-friendly home tour builds support for students

Canadian Federation of University Women host fifth annual fundraiser

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

West Kelowna acquires land for Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant

The city has acquired 24 acres on Bartley Road

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

RV lifestyle comes to the Okanagan

BC Interior RV Show returns to Penticton for the eighth year

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

Most Read