Vernon seniors fed up with vagrancy and drug use downtown

Watch: Residents at a Vernon seniors’ complex are fed up with the drug use, vagrancy and disruptive behavior they are seeing downtown.

More than 100 people from the McCulloch Court seniors’ complex in downtown Vernon are fed up and have signed a petition calling for the city to take urgent action to combat drug use and vagrancy.

They are worried for their safety and are calling on the city to do something about it.

READ MORE: Cannabis seized from Vernon dispensary

However, one city councillor argues there is only so much local government can do to get tough on crime.

A letter to city council from the manager of the society that runs McCulloch Court detailed the types of problems residents are seeing.

“We get approached for money all the time, followed, obscenities shouted at us. We can’t sit on our patios without seeing people shooting up, having sex, screaming, shouting, fighting,” the letter said.

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“We have them jumping our fence, tampering with our vehicles, stealing license plates, defecting, throwing bikes over the fence, stealing tire…Mr. Mayor and council give us our city back. We want to feel safe” the letter continued.

Resident Joy Stanyer has lived in McCulloch Court for seven years but agrees she doesn’t feel safe there anymore.

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She points out it doesn’t take much for someone with bad intentions to get inside the building.

“Some of the older people they don’t look, they just open the door thinking it is a neighbour down the way coming in,” Stanyer said.

“For some of the older people it is really not safe.”

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City councillor Akbal Mund said he understands the residents frustrations but believes many of the issues they are describing were connected to a nearby “drug house” which Mund said was recently “shut-down” by RCMP.

READ MORE: Vernon RCMP responds to criticism it left seniors home in the lurch

Indeed, since McCulloch Court wrote to council in early August police have raided a nearby problem house and seized drugs.

In a written response to McCulloch Court’s petition, Vernon’s mayor said the city budgeted an extra $1.3 million for policing this year, among other efforts to clean up the downtown core.

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Mund says there is only so much the city can do to get tough on crime because the Criminal Code and courts are outside the city’s jurisdiction.

“If you are looking to blame someone, it is very easy to blame municipal governments. If the RCMP arrest someone and they are back out on the street a half hour [later], don’t blame the RCMP, it’s got nothing to do with the RCMP,” said Mund.

READ MORE: Bus driver assaulted in Vernon released from hospital, suspect charged

“Unfortunately, that’s how our laws are created and that’s what we need to change.”

The issues raised by McCulloch Court’s petition will be up for debate in council Tuesday.

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