Linear Park, next to the People Place, has become home to the homeless in Vernon, including 34-year-old Teresa Williams and her husband. (Jennifer Smith/Morning Star)

Vernon business safety plan in the works

Task force finalizing list of recommendations to deal with criminal behaviour, homelessness, poverty

A plan to activate safety in the community is on track.

Darrin Taylor, chair of Vernon’s Activate Safety Task Force, says the Task Force is most of the way through its list of recommendations and on track for a final report in July.

“I think all members of the Task Force were appreciative of the respectful input we received from the business community at the town hall we held in April at the Schubert Centre,” said Taylor. “I’m also pleased with the cooperation and input we’ve received from both Bylaw and the RCMP. They are the people closest to the problem and their input has been phenomenal.”

He understands that there seems to be some confusion among some members of the public about the intent and mandate of the Task Force. The formal mandate of the Task Force is “to address issues related to the impacts of homelessness, poverty, addictions, and criminal behaviour on the local business community.”

See related: Safety task force losing focus

“We are not attempting to solve the root causes of homelessness, drug addiction, crime, or poverty,” said Taylor. “Those are huge issues and there are already tens of millions of dollars devoted to those issues at the provincial and federal levels. We are simply attempting to find solutions to the impacts of these problems on the business community in Vernon. Reducing the scope of the Task Force to those impacts allows us to look at it from the point of view of the business community, and to come up with solutions that can be implemented immediately and at a relatively low cost to both the City and businesses.”

See: Task force to deal with Vernon issues

Taylor says there is 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 degradation of the city,” said Taylor. “In fact, this Task Force came into being in response to a large delegation of Vernon merchants led by Vicki Eide, who is a member of the Task Force.”

See City defended over homelessness

Taylor acknowledges that there are no perfect solutions to the problems created by homelessness, addictions and criminal behaviour, but is confident that with the input of Bylaw and the RCMP, as well as an ongoing dialogue with businesses, many of the problems can be significantly mitigated.

“I think there is a real sense of optimism on the Task Force and a feeling that our recommendations will make a real difference to the landscape of Vernon,” said Taylor, while acknowledging that it is Vernon City Council which has the final say. “I’ll present our recommendations to City Council in July. After that, it’s up to Council to act.”

The current membership of the Activate Safety Task Force is:

Voting members:

Darrin Tayor, Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce Representative and Chair

Vicki Eide, Community at Large

Rick Lavin, Community at Large

Selena Stearns, Downtown Vernon Association Representative

Kari Wilton, Tourism Advisory Committee Representative

Non-voting members:

Kevin Korol, Bylaw Compliance Representative

Const. Kerri Parish, RCMP/Community Policing Representative

Coun. Scott Anderson, Council Representative

Coun. Brian Quiring, Council Representative


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