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How the City of Vernon plans to regulate camping in parks

This shelter could be seen from the boardwalk pathway in Polson Park June 7, 2017.
August 11, 2017 - 7:30 PM

VERNON - The City of Vernon is proposing penalties of up to $200 for those who contravene new rules around the use of temporary shelters in parks.

After voting to let people camp in public spaces between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. when they have nowhere else to go, the City is now preparing to adopt a set of specific bylaw amendments, including new fines, to help regulate the activity.

Under the new bylaw, homeless people can erect shelters after 9 p.m. as long as they are dismantled by 9 a.m. the next day. Temporary shelters cannot be erected on playgrounds, ornamental gardens, tennis courts, sports fields, recreation facilities, beaches, or pathways. The bylaw would also ban camping at the following places: Cenotaph Park, the Vernon Recreation and Performing Arts Centre, around Kin Park, and on the RCMP and City Hall property.

The City is also proposing to add new penalties under the Municipal Ticketing bylaw, including $200 for setting up a temporary shelter in a public place, $100 for erecting a shelter before 9 p.m. or failing to remove it prior to 9 a.m., and $100 for erecting a temporary shelter on a pathway or trail.

Under the Bylaw Notice Enforcement bylaw, the City is proposing similar fines, including $100 for having a temporary shelter in a public place, and $50 for erecting a shelter before 9 p.m. or leaving it up past 9 a.m.

According to Darren Lees, the City’s acting manager of protective services, bylaw officers have the option of writing either a municipal ticket or a bylaw offence notice, which carries the lower of the fines. Should compliance not be achieved through the use of a bylaw enforcement notice or an individual is a prolific offender, a municipal ticket may be issued, Lees explained in an email.

Vernon council is set to adopt the bylaw amendments at its regular open council meeting on Monday, Aug. 14.

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