Vernon councillor opposes reduction in social planning reports citing opioid crisis, downtown work

'An absolute opioid crisis'

“We’re in an absolute opioid crisis.”

That’s what Vernon Coun. Brian Quiring had to say at Monday’s council meeting after city staffer Terry Barton suggested the Social Planning Council quarterly reports be reduced to only twice a year.

Barton, the city’s planning and community services director, asked council if it saw the value in receiving quarterly reports. Coun. Teresa Durning said she would support the reduction in reports as it could include more statistical data like she’s been requesting.

Quiring said he disagreed with the suggested change adding that there’s a lot going on in downtown, a lot being done to combat issues, and hearing about it twice a year “is not enough.”

He also pointed to council receiving quarterly reports from city services – like recreation. Quiring added that those reports come from city staffers that council can easily access, even though they're not supposed to discuss matters outside of council.

“I own a building in the downtown, I get a lot of calls,” said Quiring. “This is every bit as important as knowing how many people took swimming lessons.”

He said members of the public – and media – rely on the reports to keep up to date on what’s going on in the city.

“Given the current state of affairs…the homeless are moving towards the downtown,” said Quiring. “I think that we need our finger on the pulse, we have to keep our finger a little more on the pulse. And the only way we can do that is by hearing reports on this.”

Council has asked staff to look into the reports from the Social Planning Council and how they could be changed.

The Social Planning Council of the North Okanagan is a non-profit primarily funded by the City of Vernon. Its goal is to improve quality of life for all residents of Vernon – reports to council cover things like homeless outreach, harm reduction, and drug related death statistics.

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