Drug use. Vandalism, Property crime. Customer safety.
The Vernon Chamber of Commerce says those were some of the items brought up during a meeting on Tuesday regarding social housing in the downtown core. According to the chamber of commerce, the meeting was also attended by Interior Health, B.C. Housing and the Turning Points Collaborative Society, which operates homeless shelters and low-income housing.
The chamber said the meeting was organized by Vicki Eide, owner of Dean’s Tailor Shop, and stated that B.C. Housing and Turning Points are establishing a housing facility next to the Gateway Shelter on 33rd Street.
“It was important to meet with B.C. Housing to fully understand the scope of the new temporary facility and the services that will be provided,” Eide said in a press release. “We want to keep downtown safe not only for the business community, but for those that are on the street.”
According to the chamber, B.C. Housing and Turning Points assured those at the meeting that the housing facility is temporary until the new My Place apartments on 27th Avenue and 35th Street open in the spring. Also, the chamber said they were told the occupants of the temporary housing facility will have come out of the Gateway shelter and they will be selected through an application process.
“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, general manager of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce. “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.”
The chamber says it is calling on the city to improve lighting in the downtown coreparticularly in the area of 33rd Street and Coldstream Avenue, where some lights are not in service.