Protestors gather at a sit-in on June 4 outside of Penticton’s city hall to express their disapproval of the no sitting or lying on the sidewalk bylaw which was passed into effect by council shortly after the event. (Jordyn Thomson - Western News)

July: Homeless building camps on city property

Looking back at our biggest stories from each month in 2019

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

In July, the former home of the Penticton man accused of fatally shooting four people was vandalized.

It was reported that approximately $10,000 in damage occurred at the home where John Brittain’s ex-wife still resides.

The information came forward in Penticton provincial court on July 17 while Crown counsel was re-applying for a no-contact order between the accused and his ex-wife.

Brittain, 68, is charged with the murder of four of his ex-wife’s neighbours — Darlene Knippelberg, Susan and Barry Wonch and Rudi Winter — in April.

“About two or three weeks ago Mrs. (Katherine) Brittain’s home was seriously vandalized with approximately $10,000 worth of damage that was done. There is an insurance claim pending and there is also a criminal charge pending and Mrs. Brittain has become even more emotionally fragile and isolated,” said defence lawyer Paul McMurray.

‘Safety’ in numbers for homeless on improvised Okanagan campsite

Chris Elliot had spent the last few nights with about 30 other people in a growing, improvised campground on city green space in the 1100-block of Main Street.

He, like most of the others sleeping in the dozen or so tents on the treed property along the KVR Trail, had nowhere else to go.

“It’s a pact we have, to stay together. It’s just safer this way for everyone,” said Elliott, while the campers took down their tents as five municipal bylaw officers walked the grounds.

“We stick together. We’re stronger this way and we can support each other.

“I guess in a way it’s a family, everyone here is a person and for some of them it’s the only family they have.”

This particular morning, the bylaw officers talked and laughed with some of the people as they packed up.

One woman, of her own volition, carries a pail around the grounds picking up any debris while another lady rakes the grass where a tent had been taken down.

“This is a clean campsite, everyone takes their turn, they don’t leave anything behind,” said Elliot.

Later in the day, all the tents had been packed up but many of the people remained on the property with their belongings waiting for the evening to come and to set up camp again.

According to Elliot, there are many members of the public who are angry the homeless are there.

“They drive by and honk their horns, shout negative things and obscenities, calling them ‘bums’ and saying ‘get a job,’” said Elliot.

“They have no idea who these people are. They all have a story, some of them I’ve known for years and it just breaks my heart.”

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