Homeless camp hostility

Vernon bylaw officers are dealing with increasing hostility from residents living in a homeless camp at the linear park along 25th Avenue.

In a report that will be presented to council Tuesday, Geoff Gaucher, manager of protective services, said bylaw staff are encountering hostile residents and open drug use.

There are four groups consisting of eight to 10 people living in the park. That number increases during the daylight hours as others congregate in the area.

Staff report members of the public are bringing food during the day, which is increasing the numbers gathering there.

“There are recent incidents involving open drug use and hostile behaviour toward bylaw compliance officers,” said Gaucher. “RCMP have been contacted, and administration is currently setting up a plan to patrol in teams with the RCMP to ensure the safety of city staff during darkness.”

Gaucher said homeless are also camping in other areas of the city.

“Displacement of camps at Polson Park and allowance for temporary shelter has moved individuals into other areas of the community, and created issues both within the downtown core and on private property,” he said in the report.

“For now, Linear Park and the surrounding neighbourhood are the most convenient for people who are homeless due to proximity to services. City council could opt to limit access to Linear Park, but that would most likely shift people into more residential-commercial spaces in the area.”

Gaucher said shelters are usually erected in compliance with city bylaws, but are often not being taken down at 9 a.m., until bylaw officers attend. Bylaw staff remove those sheltering in prohibited areas as well as on boulevards and other city property, he said. 

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