Vernon city council’s debate on a petition from a downtown senior’s complex, calling on the city to deal with vagrancy and drug use, ended without city council committing to any specific actions.
It likely wasn’t the outcome over 100 people from McCulloch Court seniors complex had hoped for when they signed the petition.
In a letter prefacing the petition, the manager of the society that runs the seniors’ complex, called the situation a “crisis” and said “we need action and we need it now.”
The seniors are concerned about the vagrancy, drug use, crime and disruptive behavior near their building on Coldstream Avenue, in Vernon’s downtown.
WATCH: (August 23) An extended interview with Vernon’s mayor Victor Cumming on the city’s approach to crime prevention.
“We feel like we are living in ground zero of the drug culture,” explained resident Gary Wilson, who was among those who signed the petition.
At their Tuesday meeting, council discussed the seniors’ petition.
Councillors said the city has already taken action on the issues raised by the petition and that it is currently pursuing other solutions.
For example, the mayor wrote in a letter in response to McCulloch Court that it is planning to spend $1.3 million this year on extra policing.
Some councillors also pointed out that some of the social and criminal problems are outside the city’s jurisdiction to address.
They discussed sending a lobbying letter to the province to ask for more services, but ultimately decided more discussion was needed to clarify council’s position before any letter is sent.
Ultimately, however, Tuesday’s debate ended without council committing to any specific action in response to the petition.
What did come out of Tuesday’s council meeting was support for hiring two new bylaw officers next summer, who will provide seasonal bike patrol at a cost of over $100,000.
Council is expected to discuss other potential initiatives aimed at cleaning up Vernon’s downtown at future meetings, including the possibility of a needle buyback program and hiring overnight security next summer.