Homeless encampments now harder to clear under new provincial legislation, says Vernon councillor

Harder to clear camps

The City of Vernon will have an even tougher time taking down homeless encampments.

Coun. Kari Gares brought the topic up at Monday’s council meeting, bringing attention to the BC NDP’s Bill 45, which received Royal Assent on Nov. 30.

“Bill 45 is the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, and it deals specifically with homeless encampments,” said Gares. “So, now we no longer have the ability to actually take down a homeless encampment unless it meets certain criteria.”

According to Gares, the person living in the encampment must have access to basic needs.

Those include, but are not limited to, staying overnight at a shelter, bathroom and shower access, and access to one meal a day without charge.

Vernon's several homeless encampments have been cause for public outcry this year, including one just outside city limits that was called an “absolute hazmat dump” by BX-Swan Lake Fire Chief Bill Wacey.

Vernon council has previously discussed its inability to take action on encampments when not on city land.

Gares said she brought the piece of legislation up for the public's knowledge.

“It's not going to be that easy to manage encampments – and we do know that they do pop up from time to time, basically without the city working directly with service providers to find acceptable places for them to reside.”

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