Safety taskforce losing focus

Group aimed at addressing issues around homelessness in Vernon is going sideways

The Safety Taskforce which has been recommended by city staff and approved by council seems to be “going sideways with exceptional velocity.”

The city council proceedings of Feb. 13 provided several, if not more, examples that I would like to cite that would seem to indicate that this is the case. It’s too bad because this initiative was enacted in response to an overwhelming submission, both on a petition, and by Vicki Eide in a delegation presentation to council last year that clearly supported the need for additional law enforcement and proactivity downtown to deal with the deteriorating circumstances that are eroding the integrity of that area-both for the businesses and the people who go downtown.

See Task force to deal with Vernon issues

Scott Anderson and Brian Quiring are, for want of a better description, the “point men on council” who are on the Taskforce. I was disturbed to hear Coun. Quiring describe the Taskforce report as being academic, and his prophecy of it taking up to a year to be formulated.

To me, what the councillor envisions could also be described as “locking the barn door after the horse has escaped.”

It was nice to hear Coun. Anderson express the imperative need for this to happen in the next two months so whatever recommendations coming out of the report can be applied to the hordes of homeless, or “street-entrenched,” some of whom are, I have been reliably informed, already on their way to Vernon.

The reluctance of the city to provide somebody to take minutes of the meetings will also considerably slow down the process.

“Was this the original intention of this?” asked Coun. Lord. CAO Will Pearce described it as time-consuming, and the city did not have the support to provide anybody to take the minutes. He also left indications that public attendance at these meetings would be subject to any possible issues involving confidentiality.

“The whole original intent was to not have people on the committee who were stakeholders, but to have a group that is from the community, and that is not what is happening, so I’m just going to say good luck to you.”

“I felt originally that the city would have more involvement in facilitating the report. I was incorrect in that assumption.”

We have two councillors who feel that the proceedings should happen in two months, or are wishing the committee “good luck,” and one councillor who misunderstood the way the committee would be conducted.

At this point, my not being accepted to be part of that Safety Taskforce is not bothering me as much as it did last month.

“I would hope it would be ready quite a bit sooner than that, because summer is coming up…a year is rather pointless.” (Scott Anderson)

I find limited solace in knowing that there are only three people, including Coun. Anderson, on the Safety Taskforce, who seem to have grasped the seriousness of the problem and the need to deal with it sooner, rather than much later.

“I see this as a shorter term issue. I would rather have us not meet at the DVA.” (Scott Anderson)

“It’s more academic if it is at arm’s length from the city.” Brian Quiring. People can draw their own conclusions from that statement, but I find it contradictory that Coun. Quiring wanted to keep it at “arm’s length,” but had no compunctions about meeting at the Downtown Vernon Association.

A number of the complainants have indicated that they feel the DVA has not been as effective as they had hoped it would be in regard to concerns previously brought before them around safety issues.

Dean Roosevelt


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