Washrooms prompt action

A team effort has developed to ensure ongoing safety at public washrooms in downtown Vernon.

A team effort has developed to ensure ongoing safety at public washrooms in downtown Vernon.

Community policing, bylaw compliance and social agencies are pursuing a number of approaches because of some drug activity in the washroom facility by Cenotaph Park and the transit exchange.

“I don’t want to raise a level of fear among the public,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham, who is part of the process. “I want people to feel comfortable using the facility. I don’t think there’s a real threat.”

Among the actions being considered are enhanced lighting, leaving the facility doors open and perhaps adjusting the hours of operation.

It appears that most of the drug activity was occurring during the winter.

Among those involved in the process is Annette Sharkey, with the Social Planning Council.

“This is an issue all communities face with public washrooms,” said Sharkey. “But Vernon stands out because of the co-operative approach we take. It’s about getting the word out and education.”

Sharkey says the city’s bylaw compliance officers help deal with potential social concerns.

“They have been monitoring situations and when they see something that can escalate, they come to the service providers and they work together. The Downtown Vernon Association has also been great.”