More than half of all Vernon bylaw calls linked to homelessness - InfoNews

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More than half of all Vernon bylaw calls linked to homelessness

April 28, 2020 - 5:30 PM

More than half of all calls received by Vernon bylaw officers in 2019 involved the street entrenched population.

The City of Vernon's Protective Services Bylaw Compliance 2019 report a 51 per cent increase in calls regarding the street entrenched population over the year prior.

Vernon bylaw officers received 6,774 calls in total in 2019, with 3,445 directly related to the street entrenched population. Overall their workload increased 11 per cent over 2018 and has almost doubled since 2015. More of their time, however, appears to have been spent dealing with complaints about homeless people. Specifically, 22 per cent of all calls related directly to homeless people seeking shelter, as opposed to panhandling or other complaints.

City of Vernon bylaws allow people to camp in some parks in the city, with conditions, between dusk and 9 a.m.

Panhandling complaints also rose significantly to 456 cases in 2019 from 263 in 2018.

The report states the increase in files concerning the homeless in parks and public places can be attributed to the dispersing of the street entrenched population from the downtown core.

"The decentralization of temporary sheltering locations away from Polson Park continued through 2019 with increased pressures in the area immediately surrounding the People Place, near the downtown shelters and service providers, laneways within the Business Improvement Area and alcoves on private property," reads the report.

Overall the number of complaint calls that involved the Business Improvement Area of downtown Vernon dropped in 2019 to 1,235 from 1,494 in 2018.

Of the 14,904 tickets issued by bylaw officers, 68 per cent of them were paid.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer 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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