Task force aims for safety is an excellent article by Roger Knox in the Nov. 17 issue of the Vernon Morning Star.
By excellent, I mean it is a comprehensive, balanced account of what was discussed.
It relates to the lengthy discussion in council chambers on Nov. 14 about the proposed Task Force; the need for terms of reference to deal with the effects of homelessness, addiction, and panhandling on businesses in the community.
The terms of reference are intended to recommend short and long-term solutions to these problems. The terms of reference are calling for a thirteen-person committee made up of representatives from the community at large (two); City of Vernon councillors (2); and one each from the Economic Development Advisory Committee; Tourism Advisory Committee; Downtown Vernon Association; Chamber of Commerce; B.C. Housing; Interior Health Authority; RCMP/Community Policing; City of Vernon Bylaws Compliance, and the Social Planning Committee.
Councillors Lord and Nahal opposed the size of the committee; and Lord wanted five or six members of the public included.
“We’re repeating the thought process. We need fresh faces. They can report back to the COOL team. Having the same people on both committees is redundant.” (Nahal)
Councillor Lord also wanted a public meeting so people could provide some input into the process prior to final decisions on content were made.
Councillor Quiring felt that having a public meeting and merely informing those attending what had been decided by the Task Force, would suffice.
That suggestion, the one which involved public input, which in my estimation, is imperative if people want to feel their opinions matter, was turned down by the other councillors.
I applaud Councillors Lord and Nahal for their valiant efforts to take the frames of reference for this Task Force beyond a redundancy that will now be prevalent in the way I see it reaching future conclusions.
By that, I simply mean that, for the most part, the same people who have made the decisions that have led us to this juncture are now being charged with making new decisions that will create doubts about how they decided to do things up until now.
Given that option, I see little progressive momentum coming out of this, but I am hoping that the inclusion of somebody like Vicki Eide and another community member with her intuitive awareness of what is really wrong, will be able to influence entrenched attitudes in the Task Force to change how they do things in the future.