Vernon bylaw officers dealt with more than 150 COVID-19 violations in 2020 | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon bylaw officers dealt with more than 150 COVID-19 violations in 2020

March 08, 2021 - 5:03 PM

City of Vernon bylaw officers dealt with 152 COVID-19 related violations throughout 2020.

The investigations, which were created at a rate of roughly three a week, concerned potential violations of Provincial Health Orders and required bylaw officers to liaise with Interior Health, WorkSafe BC and the RCMP, says a City of Vernon staff report.

The report does not give the outcome of the files, or say whether individuals faced fines or other consequences as a result of the potential violations.

The report was presented at a council meeting today, March 8, and surprisingly didn't generate any debate.

Vernon councillor Scott Anderson thanked bylaw officers for not using heavy-handed tactics in regards to the pandemic violations.

The bylaw report also showed a nine per cent decrease in the number of files officers dealt with in 2020 over the year previous. Bylaw officers dealt opened 6,148 investigations in 2020 down from 6,774 in 2019.

City staff said the majority of the decline in files could be contributed to a decrease in files related to parks and public places as well as files concerning the street entrenched population.

Files related to the street entrenched population dropped by 25 per cent in 2020, and the number of files related to parks and public places dropped by 21 per cent.

The report states that temporary housing options and increased connections to social services may have contributed to the decrease in files related to the street entrenched population.

However, while street entrenched population files may have decreased the report states they still account for 42 per cent of all the bylaw department's files.

Councillor Kelly Fehr told council 80 people who were living on the street had been housed in motels which may account for why street entrenched population files had dropped so significantly.

Fehr warned that as motels tended to increase their rates in the spring, the number of people currently housed may start to decline, which may mean an increase in bylaw offences.

The bylaw report shows a similar pattern to that of the RCMP.  A Vernon RCMP report showed that files concerning the street entrenched population dropped by more than 50 per cent in 2020.

At the time, Turning Points Collaborative Society executive director Randene Wejr said that housing created for the homeless was a key factor in why the number had dropped so significantly.

READ MORE: More affordable housing and CERB behind dramatic decline in Vernon crime rate


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