Vernon emergency camping policies unchanged

Coun. Scott Anderson’s idea to move tents from Polson Park to City Hall Plaza will be discussed today

Vernon Coun. Scott Anderson’s proposal to move homeless encampments to City Hall Plaza was defeated in Monday’s council meeting.

On Nov. 12, Coun. Anderson moved that Polson Park, the “jewel” of Vernon, be closed to camping overnight as tents and personal belongings are an “eyesore and a burden on our bylaw and RCMP officers.”

“And it’s time we did something about it,” he said.

He proposed instead the downtown City Hall Plaza, including the lawn at the south end adjacent to the museum, be opened for camping between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. This motion was also defeated in Monday’s council meeting.

“My hope in inviting the street entrenched population to city hall is that Vernonites will understand that we all share the burden created by drug addiction and mental illness,” Coun. Anderson said in his statement. “These problems will persist until the province starts addressing the actual addiction crisis instead of focusing solely on status quo harm reduction.”

City hall grounds, he said, would be easier to police and monitor due to its proximity to the RCMP detachment, fire station and other services.

“From a logistical and security perspective, it makes sense,” the rationale report reads. “Grouping overnight campers together will make it easier for both the RCMP and bylaw to fulfil their duties.”

Centralizing the street entrenched population will also keep the overall issue in the limelight, the report continued.

“This change of venue will send a message to numerous audiences that City Hall not only recognizes the problem but is willing to deal with it directly,” the report states. “It tells the citizens of Vernon that local politicians are not aloof from the issue, it tells merchants that they are valued and that local politicians are doing what we can to alleviate their concerns with concrete action.”

The change in camping hours requested by Coun. Anderson may not only help with cleanup costs associated with the tearing down of camps, but it may encourage some of the population to take action to improve their situation or seek help, or they may choose to move away from Vernon as a result of the change, his rationale report stated.

“Current campers are not homeless for economic reasons,” the statement said. “Campers are mainly in tents for three reasons: drug addiction, mental illness or simply a lifestyle choice. The refrain, ‘we’re all two paycheques away from being there,’ is frequently heard, but it is simply not true.

“Most Vernonites have lost their jobs at one time or another, many without family or friends to lean on for help, and very few of them have found themselves camping in Linear or Polson parks. Other alternatives include rooming houses, room rentals, off-season motel rooms, commercial campgrounds and moving to different cities more amenable to overnight camping,” he said in the rationale.

Coun. Anderson said city councillors have to serve the citizens of Vernon, not just the street entrenched. Tens of thousands of dollars of resources have been invested into helping the vulnerable population covering housing to medical needs, but “the problem is simply getting worse, not better,” he said.

“Vernon’s municipal government should do what it can to discourage a lifestyle that is destructive to both the participants and to civil society,” he said.

READ MORE: Vernon council may pump brakes on Commonage Road speed increase

READ MORE: 15,000-name petition against Kelowna supportive housing heads to B.C. legislature


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon musician streams live performance

Brandon Schmor is latest in QUSIC’s LGBT2Q+ Artist Music Series this Wednesday, Aug. 5, from Kelowna

Vernon trail gets new connection

Connection links the Coldstream Valley Estates and Boss Creek trail segments on Vernon Hill

Tributes aplenty for Vernon realtor, Rotarian

Dave DeShane died suddenly at age 55 on Tuesday, July 28

Sternwheelers once plied Okanagan Lake

Vessels once transported passengers and goods along the Okanagan Valley

Spall golfer records rare albatross

Sieg Schreve scores deuce on par-5 during Spallumcheen’s Men’s Night play

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Plane crashes into Nelson supermarket parking lot

Pilot and passenger have minor injuries

Thompson Okanagan Tourist Association: Who can’t access your business?

TOTA launches video to encourage proprietors to remove barriers

Shuswap pet nutritionist, raw diet advocate to be featured in national magazine

Sicamous-based Deanna Larocque building reputation for canine support

BC RCMP notify IIO BC of incident involving police dog in Kelowna

A suspect and a police dog were taken to receive medical treatment after an incident on Aug. 1.

Alberta man presumed to have drowned after cliff jumping in Peachland

Emergency responders began rescue efforts at around 2:40 p.m. on Aug. 1.

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Most Read