North Okanagan regional district to allow overnight homeless camps in regional parks | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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North Okanagan regional district to allow overnight homeless camps in regional parks

June 25, 2021 - 9:00 PM

The Regional District of the North Okanagan is asking for Vernon city council's support to allow overnight homeless camps in North Okanagan regional parks.

Current bylaws prohibit overnight homeless campsites in parks, but a new proposed bylaw would allow it between the hours of 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., or 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. when Daylight Savings Time is in effect, according to a city council report.

The bylaw applies to Greater Vernon parks under the authority of the regional district so it will have a limited impact on the city, according to a report which will be presented during a regular council meeting, June 28.

“Given recent consideration of the potential need by homeless people to have the ability to shelter in parks, the proposed bylaw has reflected this consideration in its updated regulations,” according to the staff report.

The new bylaw will still not allow homeless camps in playgrounds, sports fields, trails, on roads within a park, in environmentally sensitive areas, or in areas designated for an event or activity under a valid permit.

“These exceptions are consistent with those established by the City of Victoria and reflect the need to balance the use of the public spaces, where public visitation to the affected parks, trails and natural spaces commonly begins at 7 a.m.,” according to the report.

Camping equipment that is left in parks will be removed and taken for safekeeping until it is returned to its owner or disposed of.

Fees include a $45 removal fee and a $4.50 fee for each day the equipment is stored to a maximum of $100.

City staff recommend that council support the regional district bylaw. The Board of Directors at the regional district have already given it first, second and third readings.

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