Vernon’s year end bylaws report shows panhandling complaints last year were up 83 percent over the year before.
It works out to 231 complaints, up from 126 the year before, which the department says required significant resources to deal with.
Mayor Akbal Mund says new measures last year, like signs on boulevards and kindness meters, helped ease the concerns.
“I don’t think we’ve ever been lax at it. I think what we did is we put some deterrents in and tried to we manage what we can to handle the situation and be respectful of the people themselves.”
Councillor Scott Anderson says action like banning soliciting on boulevards and adding kindness meters, slowed the problems.
“Which I think speaks to the public. This sort of public noise that was about panhandling and that created an atmosphere that people thought they shouldn’t panhandle. That has drifted away it looks like from the statistics.”
Mayor Mund says there will always be complaints, but how the city deals with it, is the key.
“We’ll see this year, because this will be the first full year for some of the deterrents we put in place, the signs on boulevards and the kindness metres.”
Council has added 70-thousand dollars in ongoing annual funding to deal with seasonal enforcement, such as homeless and transient issues, and a one time increase of $30,000 specifically directed at expanded hours of operations to assist with homelessness.
In total, Protective Services Manager Clint Kanester says the Bylaws Department dealt with 4,175 files in 2016, up 13% from the 3,673 in 2015.
Also seeing double digit increases were complaints to bylaws staff about noise (24%), property maintenance (40%), and parks and public places (35%).