Residents, staff and board of McCulloch Court on Coldstream Avenue, along with its ground-floor businesses, have sent a letter to council demanding that something be done about the ongoing issue with “homelessness and druggies.” (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Vernon seniors residence demands action on street problems from council

Vernon Pensioners Accommodation Society sends seven-page letter and multi-page petition to council

They are sick and tired of nothing being done about “the homelessness and druggies” that are out of control in the City of Vernon.

The tenants of McCulloch Court on Coldstream Avenue, its staff, board of directors and the businesses that occupy the ground floor of the high-rise say, in a letter to Vernon council that will be dealt with under new business Tuesday at its regular meeting, they are seniors that have to live with the problems “every time we step out of our home.”

“We get approached for money all the time, followed, obscenities shouted at us,” wrote Lesley Waughman, manager for the Vernon Pensioners Accommodation Society (VPAS) on behalf of not only the tenants and businesses of McCulloch Court, but also includes the neighbouring Orchard Valley Retirement Residence, Bookland, Shear Dimensions, Schubert Centre and a few tenants’ family members.

The seven-page letter includes a multi-page petition, and a myriad of questions and complaints from tenants, ranging from why is so much help being given to the homeless and the drug addicts and not to seniors, moving the Upper Room Mission, which is less than two blocks away from McCulloch Court, from downtown, and being scared to go out alone.

A number of the complaints centre around a notorious drug house that is on the back of the McCulloch Court property.

READ MORE: Drugs, cash and 11 people apprehended at Vernon house

“It’s a 24/7 business,” wrote Waughman. “We see as much as 20 to 75, maybe more, people coming and going daily…we saw the drug bust but they’re still doing business. Why are they not shut down?”

READ MORE: Vernon council bringing back rejected cannabis retail application

Add to that the fact council first turned down, then supported, a cannabis retail outlet location a block away on 35th Street – despite protests from VPAS – and that the city is putting in a public washroom on the corner of Coldstream Avenue and 35th Street, again, to the chagrin of the society, VPAS’ frustrations boil over in print.

“So the seniors of McCulloch Court, staff, directors, and businesses want answers,” wrote Waughman. “Don’t keep sugar-coating it. Use some tough love and get our city back.

“Find a safe place to have an area for tents for the homeless not on drugs, security for it, bathrooms and away from the city centre and homes…our tenants are very upset. We implore you to do something now. Don’t wait. Don’t do any more talks or spend more money on companies researching the problem. We need action and we need it now.”

While council will discuss the letter and petition Tuesday, Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming responded to the society with a one-page letter, saying current and previous council have taken crime issues seriously.

Cumming said council has committed and will spend more than $1.3 million to support additional policing this year, funded by local taxpayers. They’ve directed additional bylaw enforcement activities in downtown and throughout the city, and have increased other clean-up activities in the downtown core.

Cumming said council is “well aware that the current opioid crisis is seriously affecting Vernon,” the Okanagan and virtually “hundreds of other urban communities in North American creating levels of crime and social disruption not experienced before.”

“To date, no location in North America has found the magic solution,” said Cumming, adding that the city, local social agencies, Interior Health, B.C. Housing, Mental Health and Addictions and RCMP and bylaw are all working closely together to decrease the impacts of this crisis.

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