Vernon Coun. Kari Gares is happy the city is meeting with RCMP and residents over illegal activities and other complaints in the downtown core. (Morning Star - file photo)

Vernon Coun. Kari Gares is happy the city is meeting with RCMP and residents over illegal activities and other complaints in the downtown core. (Morning Star - file photo)

Downtown Vernon crime concerns addressed in meetings

Staff, RCMP, residents meet to discuss illegal activities and other issues in downtown residential areas

One Vernon councillor wants meetings between the city, RCMP and residents concerned about illegal activities and other nuisance complaints to continue.

At the regular meeting of council Monday, Jan. 24, Coun. Kari Gares brought up a story from local media about problems at a downtown apartment complex, and drugs and other activities in and around the buildings, wanting to know if security watch was increased for neighbouring residents impacted.

“Nobody’s getting fined, nobody’s being held accountable, and it’s affecting our quality of life and our sleep,” one concerned neighbour told the Morning Star.

Kevin Poole, the city’s director of community safety, lands, and administration, said two meetings have been held with concerned residents who live in the area near a temporary shelter operated by the Turning Points Collaborative Society.

“We talked to the residents about phoning the RCMP, talk to bylaw and talk to community policing,” said Poole, who said the two sessions he and Mayor Victor Cumming attended also included the RCMP and Turning Points representatives.

“The individual who organized the first meeting told us as we followed up that things have improved. They are phoning the RCMP when challenges pop up. That’s a big thing we tried to stress. Even if RCMP are unable to respond, they are able to track, so that data is very important so they know where the hot spots are.”

Poole said bylaw has been increasing its patrols late in the day and early in the evening.

Gares, who said she has a family member that does cleaning for some of the apartment complexes downtown, noted the issues are ongoing, and that the majority of residents who live in the area are seniors.

“It’s not just illegal activities, there’s defecation, urination, leaving refuse on property, people building makeshift homes under balconies, and it’s a real sense of concern,” said Gares. “My late grandfather lived in the area and he was very fearful. That’s not going to change overnight.”

Still, the councillor was happy to hear discussions are ongoing and that the city is aware of the problems.

“I’m glad we’re having these conversations with the necessary people,” she said. “For a lot of community members, they don’t see that.”

Poole gave kudos to Vernon North Okanagan RCMP Supt. Shawna Baher and Staff-Sgt. Blake MacLeod for attending both sessions so far and making it clear to residents who they should contact in case of problems.

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roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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A 30th Avenue apartment in Vernon is causing problems for neighbours. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

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