Skip to content

LETTER: Vernon’s homeless and calls to police

Residents urges homeless to attend city council meetings and advocate for themselves

Recently, I had the unpleasant experience of calling the police to remove a couple who were homeless from my strata’s common grounds. Unpleasant, as I took no joy in denying a safe place for them to sleep.

Needless to say I never intended to take a mortgage out so there can be people who tent here. Our property is not an empty field! Less risk those “campers” to become permanent ‘neighbours.’ Likewise, I didn’t take out a mortgage so I can call 911 to assist a homeless male (in his late 50s) passed out in our parking lot. Nor did I do so to call the police, when another male, in his 30s, was trying car handles, and otherwise lurking around. On another occasion I have asked a young couple in their 20s to leave the property, as they were ‘supposedly’ looking for twigs for a camp fire - paying particular attention to the sliding patio doors. This all happened in the last 19 months.

Thank goodness I live on the second floor, yet I can’t help but think if anyone thinks it was insensitive what I did; after all, I do live in a locked building. I encourage them to write a welcoming letter with their street. I’m sure their neighbours would love the block party camping.

I’ve put aside the dismissive nature of authorities (911, constables and civilian clerks) being asked stupid questions such as, “if I had already asked them to leave” and “can you check if they’re still there” in my most recent call. No, my dear RCMP clerk, I thought best instead to invite the homeless in for tea and cookies – obviously sarcasm. Apparently, people can disappear off the face of the plant in less than two minutes, since you seen them.

Overlooking this lack of general intelligence, it got me wondering, what the heck have our officials (city council, MLAs, MPs, health authorities, etc.) been doing? Apparently, since, at least, the 2008 recession, it hasn’t been long enough for them to make even a tiny dent in our opioid crisis. Instead, the preference is only to do a ‘harm reduction’ and so called ‘evidence based approach.’ Both which so far, it seems, have done nothing except to merely sustain homeless in a suspended state of subexisting and living.

Suspended as while keeping people alive and “healthy” (eye-roll) is all fine and well, if the province and feds, don’t adequately fund treatment programs, it does nothing but keep the status quo (a poor state indeed). Moreover, the ‘typical’ Canadian one-fits-all approach simply shouldn’t apply. An approach that states ‘out’ patient treatment can be used for all. An approach that either doesn’t involve ‘in’ patient detox, or if did does, then expels them back into the gutter. I once met a woman in front of a 7/11 that was released, earlier that evening, from the psych ward of the Penticton hospital, who either was released without a plan, or, it involved her staying with friends in Kelowna. Friends who either didn’t exist or whom she had no way to contact (email or phone, I asked). The former of them not existing seems more likely to me.

Nonetheless, she appeared not to be in a mental state to be alone. I do hope the call I placed to the RCMP, for a wellness checked, helped her in someway. At no time did she ask for money nor used my phone. I offered to call someone but she couldn’t remember any numbers or emails of her ‘tons’ of friends. I don’t feel she was trying to pull some type of scam. Another ‘catch and release’ case in our health ‘care’ (laughs) system.

It is easy to see how depressing all of this is. How there are no prospects for the future. I know I am in this state of mind. The only thing I can suggest to the homeless is, as it doesn’t appear people are in rush to your rescue, is to take things peacefully into your own hands. Attend every public hearing you can. As a reminder, city council meeting are held Mondays at 1:30 p.m. Sit quietly in the audience. Get there earlier for seats! Visit to say hi at the local MLA and MP offices. Ensure elected officials don’t forget your face. Perhaps, if they cannot avoid you, they will actually put pressure where needed, for better help. In a short, give a shoot about your future; as nobody else is in the mood to.

I wish I could say my situation was isolated to the area of town we live in; based on the number of videos of homeless (on Facebook ‘BC Vernon Crime Watch’) looking into windows of homes more affluent, I can’t say it is.

David Sutch

READ MORE: Unconscious woman dropped in Vernon parking lot

READ MORE: RCMP investigate serious assault in Vernon’s Polson Park


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

and subscribe to our daily newsletter.

Be Among The First To Know

Sign up for a free account today, and receive top headlines in your inbox Monday to Saturday.

Sign Up with google Sign Up with facebook

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reset your password

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A link has been emailed to you - check your inbox.

Don't have an account? Click here to sign up

Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
Read more