A group of street-entrenched people gather at Linear Park on 25th Ave. near People Place in 2017. (Morning Star file photo)

Editorial: Homeless impact on Vernon businesses a complex issue

City of Vernon councillors have tough decisions ahead

It’s an issue that has been splashed across the front page and home screens of all Vernon media, including The Morning Star, over the past few years.

And, as tensions rise between local businesses and the City of Vernon and Downtown Vernon Association over a perceived lack of action, it’s a situation that is bound to get worse before it gets better.

An estimated 80 people were at an Activate Safety Task Force meeting earlier this month with high hopes of finding a solution to the homelessness issues that permeate the downtown core.

Related: Issues with street-entrenched people increase for Vernon business

Related: Vernon meeting focuses on homeless

However, as political meetings are wont to do, discussion surrounded the issues as opposed to solutions. That inevitably left some Vernon business owners with a bit of a sour taste in their mouths, and why wouldn’t it? They’re looking for answers. They’re looking for solutions to problems outside of their control that has impacted their businesses, and they’re right to be upset.

Coun. Scott Anderson said that there was a misconception circulating through the public that made it seem as though the meeting was about tackling social problems and homelessness as opposed to the business impact of homelessness and open-air drug use some members reported.

Related: Majority of people living on Vernon’s streets are men

While that is the crux of the issue, or at least that Feb. 6 meeting, the two issues are opposite sides of the same coin.

The impact of the street-entrenched population on downtown business can’t be tackled without also tackling or at least mitigating the overarching issue of homelessness. Only by discussing solutions to both problems can a possible resolution be found.

Unfortunately for City of Vernon mayor and councillors, it’s a task that is far easier said than done.


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