City of Vernon bylaw officers were 11 per cent busier in 2019 than the year prior with a total of 6,774 calls.
Contributing factors resulting in an increase of complaints includes a 47 per cent uptick in Parks and Public Places complaints and a 51 per cent increase linked to the street entrenched or SEPTA files, said Protective Services manager Darren Lees in a report to council.
Property maintenance related files were also a contributing factor to 2019’s increase.
Parks and Public Place complaints, the report said, can be attributed to the dispersing of the street entrenched and their encampments from the BIA. The increased presence of RCMP and bylaw officers in the area “certainly contributed to the increase in file volume.”
Of the 3,050 total case files in parks, 1,474 were related to temporary shelters.
SEPTA files, or files relating to Street Entrenched Population Target Analysis, made up half of bylaw’s files in 2019. This 50.8 per cent is comprised of any files involving street entrenched persons, temporary overnight sheltering, panhandling and street drug use or drug paraphernalia.
The Seasonal Enforcement Unit (SEU) is a team of two bylaw officers responsible for responding to daily service calls and patrolling, predominately downtown and in surrounding parks, including Polson Park. SEU officers do daily rounds from April 1 through to Oct. 31. An extension was added in 2019 allowing the program to run throughout Dec. 15.
Downtown-related files dropped by around 200 files from 2018. Bylaw said this drop is related to the movement of the street entrenched to the parks by RCMP and bylaw officers, but temporary shelters was still a big concern generating 196 files. Substance, traffic, safety and security issues and panhandling also have files in the triple-digits.
Invasive Plant Enforcement saw a 30 per cent increase over 2019, according to the report, which can be attributed to increased public complaints.
A total of 14,904 tickets were issued by bylaw officers in 2019. More than 200 have been cancelled, typically due to a parking meter issue, 10,263 tickets have been repaid and more than 2,500 are in collections.
Bylaw will present its findings to councillors during the regular meeting on April 27, 2020.