Homeless camp near site of Vernon road project can stay till construction begins, ministry says

The province said it is not currently concerned about the safety of a homeless camp near the site of a provincial road project. However, campers will be asked to move when construction resumes. Megan Turcato / Global News

Homeless people who’ve set up a camp near the site of a provincial road construction project in the Vernon area likely won’t be forced to move till construction resumes in the next few months.

The province’s Transportation Ministry said in a statement that it’s not concerned about the safety of campers who have set up between the site of the 20th Street extension project and Highway 97 along BX Creek.

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“While it is generally not safe for people to be camping by a highway, the location of these particular campers is not currently a safety concern for the ministry, given their distance from the highway,” the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said in a statement.

However, the province said the campers will be asked to move if they are still in the area when the construction project resumes in the next few months.

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The project is part of a $15-million improvement to the Stickle Road intersection that is already partially completed.

The province said the remaining work will see 20th Street in Vernon connected to Stickle Frontage Road, work the Transportation Ministry hopes will be done by this fall.

However, who is responsible for clearing up the campsite, which is near a large embankment set up for the upcoming provincial road project, was the subject of a jurisdictional dispute.

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The Transportation Ministry told Beach Radio News last week that the camp is on city property, but Vernon was adamant that the main camp is on provincial land.

However, the province is no longer denying responsibility for dealing with situation.

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It said outreach workers are connecting with homeless “campers to offer shelter beds and referrals to other services.”

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The Transportation Ministry said “there is currently shelter space available” in Vernon.