Homeless man on the move again after eviction from vacant Vernon lot | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Homeless man on the move again after eviction from vacant Vernon lot

Maurice Samson, 44, says with each move, he's getting closer to the outskirts of the city.
August 17, 2017 - 6:30 PM

VERNON - Maurice Samson has just been evicted from the vacant lot at the north end of Vernon where he, and others, have been camping out lately. As workers erect a security fence around the property — the future site of a hotel — Samson takes stock of everything he has to move: two tents, a couple shopping carts, a pile of goods laid out on a mat. 

He calls himself a “binner” — someone who collects what others don’t want, so he’s got a lot of stuff.

“It’s amazing what people throw away in this town,” he says.

He’s only been at the lot across from Home Depot for about a week, he says. There’s a couple in an RV and a guy in a semi too, he says, but they aren’t around.

The two guys installing a fence around the lot have been hired by the property owner, who says she had little choice after receiving a letter from the City warning of fines unless the property was cleaned up.

Asked if he’s upset at being told to move, Samson shakes his head.

“Nope, not at all. I totally understand. I didn’t really plan on staying here,” he says.

It’s not the first time he’s packed up his things and changed locations. Each time, he moves a little bit further north, closer to the outskirts of the city, he says.

“Depending on what the police say, I guess the city limits is the overpass, so I’ll probably go there,” he says. “As long as I get somewhere where I won’t be hassled.”

He says he inquired at a nearby RV site, asking to rent a pad, but they don’t allow tents.

Originally from Port Alberni, Samson says he’s been in Vernon for about a year. He gets $235 from income assistance every month and says he works for a temp agency.

“You just go in in the morning and if they need you, it’s first come first serve kind of thing,” he says.

He never stayed at Polson Park, explaining it “wasn’t his scene” but he did camp along the creek behind London Drugs for a while.

Samson describes himself a
Samson describes himself a "binner" who collects food, clothing and other items that people throw out.

“I was the only one out there until one person saw me from the road and the next thing you know, (people are) coming over, coming over. They brought a mess with them, all their habits and stuff. I wasn’t very proud to call that my camp. People were stealing from me. So I packed up whatever I could and came here,” he says.

The area he moved from — which is behind Kal Tire Place — is now off limits to campers anyways as part of new bylaw regulations approved by the City. The bylaw bans camping in certain parks, and requires temporary structures to be taken down from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in areas like Polson Park, where overnight camping is allowed if you are homeless and have nowhere else to go.

Private property is a different story.

Lucky Gill, co-owner of the Best Western in Vernon, and owner of the lot where Samson was camping, says she received a letter from the City of Vernon saying she would get a fine if she didn’t clean up the lot — which is the future location of a Best Western Premier hotel.

“I tried a couple of times to tell people (to leave) but every time I went back there’s a new person,” Gill says. “The only solution is to put up the fence and no trespassing signs.”

She respects the City’s policies and says short of designating another area where homeless individuals can camp, there’s not much the municipality can do.

“These people are just looking for a free space. If the city had a designated area, we might not have these issues,” Gill says.

Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster has responded to that idea before. He says both the City and the Province own property, but if it’s set aside as a homeless camp, that could cause tensions in the adjacent neighbourhood. Additionally, he says it’s important for individuals to be located downtown — near social agencies and services — not out of town.

For people like Samson, the future is uncertain and continually being asked to move along a fact of life.

“I’m just taking everything in stride,” he says.

Read previous stories about homelessness in Vernon here. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2017

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