Vagrants in West Kelowna

“Vagrant” - a person without a settled home or regular work who wanders from place to place and lives by begging; one who lives on the streets or constitutes a public nuisance.

On several occasions, including today, we have gone to the West Kelowna Regional Library and have witnessed the transients, vagrants, and/or homeless sleeping in the chairs with all of their belongings surrounding them, using the washrooms, eating in the library and not using the Library for its intended purpose. While we have not seen any confrontations with such people, we believe it is not appropriate to allow such behaviour in a public, taxpayer funded, facility that is supposed to be a place of knowledge, dignity, learning, and safety for all.

The West Kelowna Library is mostly staffed by women who are not trained (nor should be) to handle evicting persons that are not using the Library for the purposes intended. The West Kelowna RCMP is understaffed to the point that the Detachment Commander must to go out on calls and therefore the RCMP really does not have the resources to assist on an immediacy basis. We are also appalled to hear that the transients, vagrants, and/or homeless are using the Library washrooms for sexual encounters and other washrooms for bathing. These are the same washrooms that are used by the very young children who are brought into the Library to learn and read. The children should not have to be concerned about confronting perverted activities in our library which should be a safe zone.

We are the taxpayers who fund this facility and we need to keep it safe for the young, future generation and not allow it to become a well-known flop house.  The same applies to “our” other facilities that are being vandalized and misused by non-taxpaying persons; such as, Memorial Park (approximately 800 thousand of taxpayer dollars), the Skate Board (another 800 thousand of taxpayer dollars), the Bus Loop Area (where millions of our tax dollars were spent on upgrades), the abuse of our public staff members who must clean up after these sorts of individuals, the bus drivers who have been hurt or threatened by such individuals, and other more vulgar occurrences in our community that were outlined in the City Staff Report.

Our City Council needs to act now before matters get worse this summer. The council needs to hire more than the two RCMP they have approved over the past two years (the Council were asked for five additional RCMP at a recent Council budget meeting and only approved one), and facilitate the availability of a quick response team that can be contacted by any City Staff member to attend and challenge the vagrant/transient and/or homeless issues before they get out of hand, including the illegal camping in the gully beside the church.

The transients, vagrants, and/or homeless do not contribute to our City in any acceptable manner. Our Children and Grand Children need to be safe, feel safe, and be able to use the facilities funded by taxpayers, in a safe and secure manner.  West Kelowna City Council, we do not need any more staff or consultant reports, it is time to act.

Donn Frederick

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