Skip to content

Vernon frustrated with ‘disgusting’ conditions of encampment

‘Every 50 feet is a latrine’: Coun. Quiring
Fires are on ongoing issue at homeless encampments near the CN railway on the north end of Vernon. (Jennifer Smith/Morning Star)

The ever-worsening conditions of a homeless encampment on the north end of Vernon has sparked frustration from members of council.

Coun. Kelly Fehr has requested help on getting the encampment (located on Highway 97, near the Swan Lake Nature Reserve) cleaned up.

“We have a report from the BX fire chief (Bill Wacey), stating the area is actually a hazmat site due to the garbage,” said Fehr at the Monday, Nov. 6 council meeting. “It’s leaching into a natural bird sanctuary and he won’t send his team in unless they have oxygen. I believe we need to take some more action and apply provincial pressure. Every 50 feet is a latrine, it is disgusting and I don’t think we should be satisfied that we are doing everything that we can.”

The area of the encampment does not fall under the City of Vernon or RDNO’s jurisdiction. Rather, it is in the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) area.

“It’s clear who is supposed to be doing the cleaning, but they aren’t,” said Coun. Brian Guy. “So, I would sure like to take some initiative to push this forward with the MOTI as I think we need to pursue this.”

Patti Bridal, the city’s chief administrative officer, explained that they have already done what they can to put pressure on the MOTI to cleanup.

“We are in pretty much constant communication with MOTI. We have done extensive work with MOTI and the rail line, CP, to clean up that area and it takes lots of time to get them to do something. I think we are doing all that we can do in terms of the administrative side.”

Coun. Guy asked if the city could do something themselves, then send the bill to MOTI.

“It’s unattractive and paints the city in a bad light and paints the picture that we don’t care about our city. It’s frustrating, we get negative feedback on it and we can’t influence it.”

Coun. Mund countered that the city does go and clean it up “it is going to become ours and Vernon taxpayers are going to be paying for it.”

“I don’t think it is a good idea. It’s an issue for MOTI and they should be dealing with it.”

There is also another new encampment, set up in the back of Kal Tire Place, that Coun. Gares requested the city look into.

The RDNO’s next meeting is on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 4 p.m. where the topic will be discussed.

READ MORE: ‘Grave concerns’: doctors on closure of Vernon’s last walk-in clinic

READ MORE: Encampment cleaned up near Lake Country

Bowen Assman

About the Author: Bowen Assman

I joined The Morning Star team in January 2023 as a reporter. Before that, I spent 10 months covering sports in Kelowna.
Read more