Facilitator prepped for hot-button downtown Vernon business meeting on public safety - InfoNews

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Facilitator prepped for hot-button downtown Vernon business meeting on public safety

Jen Casorso with Urban Matters will be the facilitator for the upcoming meeting between Vernon business owners and service providers.
January 24, 2019 - 5:04 PM

VERNON - The stage is set for what looks to be a lively conversation about public safety and homelessness between downtown Vernon business owners, service providers and the Social Planning Council next month.

A facilitated meeting for the three groups will be held on Feb. 6 at the Schubert Centre. The event is by invitation-only, with the City asking interested businesses to RSVP by Jan. 30.

Vernon city council set the meeting earlier this month after rejecting a proposed similar meeting which, in council's eyes, didn't put business owners on equal footing with service providers since it simply encouraged businesses to attend the event. Council asked for direct invitations to be sent out for this new meeting to create a greater sense of equanimity.

The meeting, which is the result of a recommendation from the Activate Safety Task Force in September 2018, is built around three main topics: reviewing issues and concerns with downtown Vernon, discussing new programs and initiatives, and brainstorming possible actions and solutions moving forward.

The meeting is expected to touch on several hot button issues, particularly homelessness. To ensure decorum, the City of Vernon has hired Jen Casorso from Urban Matters to act as a facilitator at the meeting. She'll be responsible to keep the conversations on track and making sure participants behave respectfully.

"Urban Matters is focused on helping communities solve their wicked problems," she said.

Casorso, who used to worked with the City of Kamloops, said her team will make a recording of the meeting and present a report on the conversations along with recommendations to the City of Vernon.

According to Casorso, 40 people have said they plan to attend the event. The space only accommodates 80 people, so anyone who applies for a spot after capacity is reached will be put on a waiting list. Casorso plans to give every participant a chance to speak their mind.

"We're trying to ensure everyone has space for a voice," she said.

Coun. Scott Anderson, who was a vocal critic of the original proposed meeting, will be attending the facilitated conversation. He's noted that business owners seem to be ignored when their concerns are raised, so he's looking forward to participants speaking their minds in a controlled space.

"I'm hopeful the service providers listen to what's being said and that action's taken," Anderson said.

Due to limited space, only one representative from each business will be able to attend the meeting.


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