Vernon’s Activate Safety Task Force continues to work towards producing recommendations to City council, aimed at reducing the impact of homelessness, poverty, addictions and criminal behaviour on the business community.
Darrin Taylor is chair of the nine person committee that has been meeting weekly since March, and held a townhall input meeting last month.
Taylor says they want to make suggestions the city can act on promptly.
“There is a sense of urgency out there I think, and people want to see something happen sooner rather than later, so much of what we’ve come up with, there is no reason, certainly if there is a will at council, that they could implement a few meaningful things before the end of the summer,” Taylor tells Beach Radio News.
Taylor didn’t want to get into specifics at this point, but says none of their proposals would involve significant, overwhelming cost.
The task force is planning to present its ideas to council July 9th.
Taylor says an incident this week where business owner Bob Sattler dumped a load of garbage in front of City Hall, is indicative of the frustration merchants are dealing with.
“It’s unfortunate the way that played out. I’m pretty sure he regrets handling it the way he handled it, but it’s indicative of the frustration that’s out there. The businesses are forced to bear a significant burden, cleaning up, and dealing with this. I feel for him, absolutely,” Taylor told the radio station.
Sattler was fed up with ongoing issues with trash and other items being left on his property.
Taylor says there is palpable anger and frustration amongst the public and business community.
“One thing that’s become clear to me over the course of meeting with and talking to people in Vernon is the degree of frustration felt by both business owners and members of the public at what they see as the degradation of the city,” says Taylor. “In fact this Task Force came into being in response to a large delegation of Vernon merchants led by Vicki Eide, who is a member of the Task Force.”
Taylor says says he’s pleased with the cooperation and input from Bylaw and the RCMP.
“They are the people closest to the problem and their input has been phenomenal.”
Taylor says there seems to be some confusion from some people about the intent and mandate of the Task Force.
He says formal mandate of the Task Force is “to address issues related to the impacts of homelessness, poverty, addictions, and criminal behavior on the local business community.”
“We are not attempting to solve the root causes of homelessness, drug addiction, crime, or poverty,” said Taylor. “Those are huge issues and there are already tens of millions of dollars devoted to those issues at the provincial and federal levels. We are simply attempting to find solutions to the impacts of these problems on the business community in Vernon. Reducing the scope of the Task Force to those impacts allows us to look at it from the point of view of the business community, and to come up with solutions that can be implemented immediately and at relatively low cost to both the City and businesses.”
Taylor realizes there are no perfect solutions to the problems created by homelessness, addictions and criminal behavior, but is confident that with the input of Bylaw and the RCMP, as well as an ongoing dialogue with businesses, many of the problems can be significantly mitigated.
“I think there is a real sense of optimism on the Task Force and a feeling that our recommendations will make a real difference to the landscape of Vernon,” said Taylor, while acknowledging that it is Vernon City Council which has the final say. “I’ll present our recommendations to City Council in July. After that it’s up to Council to act.”
The current membership of the Activate Safety Task Force is:
Darrin Tayor, Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce Representative and Chair
Vicki Eide, Community at Large
Rick Lavin, Community at Large
Selena Stearns, Downtown Vernon Association Representative
Kari Wilton, Tourism Advisory Committee Representative
Kevin Korol, Bylaw Compliance Representative
Cst. Kerri Parish, RCMP/Community Policing Representative
Councillor Scott Anderson,Council Representative
Councillor Brian Quiring, Council Representative