A stricter, more proactive approach with street-entrenched residents is needed, if Vernon wants to improve the impact of that population on local businesses.
That’s the comment from Darrin Taylor, head of the task force that made over 40 recommendations to council, which were debated in a marathon meeting Monday.
Taylor says agencies like bylaw and police have to make life less comfortable for the trouble makers.
“Bylaw and RCMP can’t rush in in a heavy handed way and start rounding people up, but it really is remarkable the changes that we can see once the word gets out that this is tolerated and that’s not tolerated.”
Taylor (pictured) says Vernon has to change its reputation of turning a blind eye to bad behaviour.
“The idea of shifting from a call response enforcement basis to a proactive boots on the ground, to having more of a presence, that whole idea was brought to the task force by the police and bylaws representatives there.”
He says the decision to ban shopping carts in public places is a step in the right direction, but its success will depend on how its enforced.
Council rejected the task force’s idea to fund a needle refund program — but that may not be the last we hear of it.
Taylor says the city has left the door open to investigate private sources.
“I’m not convinced that’s a dead issue. I think there’s strong will in the community, even from private citizens, to step up and fund a buy back effort, so I’m not sure where that will go.”
After Monday’s six-plus hour meeting — Taylor is pleased council gave their recommendations a lengthy discussion, and says residents will be watching, and making sure the city follows through on its plan.