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Chamber calls for action on downtown safety

NOVEMBER 23, 2018 – The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is calling for increased dialogue to address street-level concerns in the downtown core. On Nov. 20, chamber representatives attended a meeting organized by business owners contending with drug use, litter, loitering, vandalism, property crime, aggressive behaviour and concerns about customer safety. Also at the meeting were Interior Health, BC Housing and the Turning Points Collaborative Society, which operates homeless shelters and low-income housing. The Nov. 20 meeting was organized by Vicki Eide, owner of Dean’s Tailor Shop, as a result of BC Housing and Turning Points establishing a housing facility next to the Gateway shelter. “It was important to meet with BC Housing to fully understand the scope of the new temporary facility and the services that will be provided. We want to keep downtown safe not only for the business community, but for those that are on the street,” said Eide. BC Housing and Turning Points assured those at the meeting that the housing facility on 33rd Street is temporary until the new My Place apartments open at 27th Avenue and 35th Street in the spring. The occupants of the temporary housing facility will have come out of the Gateway shelter and they will be selected through an application process. They will have access to meals and laundry on site, and occupants will have to sign agreements relating to proper behaviour. BC Housing has leased the building on 33rd Street until the end of March and is not speculating on future uses for the building. Representatives from BC Housing stated they would approach the City of Vernon and the RCMP about security concerns near the shelter and temporary housing. “The business owners are extremely compassionate towards those truly in need and many have established personal relationships with these individuals. However, the business owners are faced with a situation with a criminal element downtown that is increasingly tense,” said Dione Chambers, Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce general manager. “They are not only concerned about the safety of themselves and their customers, but the safety of those who are in need and can fall victim to a negative element.” To partly address safety, the chamber is calling for the City of Vernon to improve lighting, particularly in the area of 33rd Street and Coldstream Avenue, where some lights are not in service. Beyond this, the chamber is urging the City of Vernon, the RCMP and provincial agencies to meet with business owners and non-profit service providers to consider enhanced enforcement to ensure safety for all who frequent downtown. (30) The Greater Vernon Chamber represents more than 550 businesses in the North Okanagan and is an active member of both the BC Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber. The BC Chamber is the largest and most broadly-based business organization in the province. Representing more than 125 Chambers of Commerce and 36,000 businesses of every size, sector and region of the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce is “The Voice of Business in B.C.”
Dione Chambers, General Manager
Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce
T : 250.545.0771