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Vernon council debates role of Downtown Association

Vernon city hall
January 21, 2019 - 4:02 PM

VERNON - A letter from the Downtown Vernon Association submitted to City Council sparked yet another debate about tackling the crime problems facing local businesses.

The Association submitted a letter to council at their regular meeting today, Jan. 21. The letter asked for clarification on comments made by Councillors Scott Anderson and Kari Gares about the Association at the Jan. 7 regular meeting. The letter highlighted selected comments from the councillors which noted a perceived difficult relationship between local businesses and the Association.

The letter said the Association was concerned about the councillors' comments and they wanted further explanation to better understand the context.

Anderson questioned why the comments were being brought to the public spotlight, noting that if every comment from councillors is brought under scrutiny, the council is "in for a long four years."

Anderson expanded on his comments about the Association, stating that he's received several complaints from local business owners who feel they can't talk to the group about entrenched street crime in the downtown core.

"People of Vernon are fed right up," he said. "They feel the [Association] is not sticking up for them."

At the Jan. 7 meeting, council set a forum for next month where local businesses can voice their concerns. The comments about the Association stem from this Jan. 7 meeting.

Coun. Gares said she didn't want to point fingers with her comments. She said she was echoing the feelings of many business owners.

"Businesses are angry," she said. "Communication is key and that's where we're failing. City Council is as much to blame."

Coun. Brian Quiring spoke up for the Association saying that their primary function is marketing, not advocacy. He said council needs to handle the problems downtown.

"It's not an [Association] matter," Quiring said. "They're getting a brow-beating they don't deserve.

Coun. Akbal Mund invited the Association to appear at a future meeting to present their side of the story. Anderson agreed with him.

The meeting for local businesses is scheduled for Feb. 7.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Sean Mott or call (250) 864-7494 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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