Vernon Coun. Kari Gares hopes people bring solutions, along with concerns, to a special town-hall meeting Tuesday involving downtown issues and problems. (Morning Star - file photo)

Homeless, drug use and safety issues on topic at Okanagan meeting

Councillor wants people to bring concerns but also solutions to Vernon town-hall meeting Tuesday

Kari Gares wants to hear people’s concerns.

But the Vernon councillor is hoping for a lot more than just a “bitch-fest” when the City of Vernon hosts a town hall meeting Tuesday.

The meeting will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Vernon Recreation Centre auditorium. It’s designed for residents and business owners to express concerns or issues relating to crime, vagrancy, overdose prevention sites and open drug use where there’s a negative impact on downtown and surrounding neighbourhoods.

READ ALSO: Vernon council sets town hall meeting on downtown issues

“What I’m looking for is for people to come to the town hall with concerns, yes, but also bring solutions to the table,” said Gares. “The citizens have not been engaged on this. That’s the purpose of the meeting, to engage the community. If they don’t air concerns, we hope they say, ‘This is what I think we could do that would be helpful.’ We hope people do not use the forum to air grievances.”

Council is asking those that attend for solutions both short- and long-term that may improve their neighbourhood in regard to the issues that are the focus of the meeting.

As directed by council, speakers will be allocated a maximum of two minutes (Gares originally asked for five minutes) to bring forward their remarks and solutions.

The city has appointed CTQ Consulting Ltd. to facilitate Tuesday’s meeting. Their role is to manage a respectful meeting, ensure speakers respect the time limit, record the comments of the public, and if required, ask clarifying questions of the presenters in order to capture accurate records.

READ ALSO: Vernon council will hold town-hall on downtown issues

Vernon councillors will not take questions from the floor. Their role is to listen to members of the public, and, if necessary, seek clarification of comments made, through the facilitator.

Gares expects a large turnout Tuesday.

“From what I’m seeing on social media, I think there will be quite a bit more people than some think,” she said.


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