Penticton bylaw officers tore down a homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)

Penticton bylaw officers tore down a homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)

Penticton bylaw fields 63 calls for ‘transient camps’ in April

Bylaw services may increase hours to address challenges

Penticton bylaw services responded to 417 calls for service in April, including 63 calls for what bylaw refers to as “transient camps.”

This comes at a time when many are noticing tent encampments in certain areas of the city.

Bylaw services supervisor Tina Mercier gave an update on bylaw’s last month of activity to the city’s safety and security committee during the committee’s meeting Monday, May 3. She said the increase in camps has come at a time that bylaw has also seen an increase in vandalism and drug overdoses.

READ MORE: Penticton bylaw tears down ‘significantly sized’ homeless camp under bridge

Mercier mentioned that overnight camps set up near schools and parks and drug overdoses have been increasing in recent weeks across the city.

She said this kind of activity is usually seen when the weather starts to warm up.

“Bylaw has been really busy this past month. April was definitely a busy month for us, we had 417 active bylaw calls,” she said. “The warmer weather brings out a lot of these types of issues.”

In addition to the 63 calls for transient camps, bylaw also performed 25 wellness checks, with five requiring an emergency response for opioid overdoses in April.

Thirty calls were also made for abandoned property and 65 for loitering and/or obstructing.

May 1 also marked the first day the the new gates in the breezeway of Main Street’s 200 block became operational. The gates will be closed from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily to deter overnight issues in the breezeway.

On Tuesday’s city council agenda, staff are proposing to put up fencing around the Gyro Park bandshell to deter people sleeping overnight.

Bylaw could soon get more time to deal with all the issues reported to them. They recently hired four new relief officers and council is set to discuss extending their hours of operation from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. The extended hours would cost an estimated $679,000.

READ MORE: Penticton council to weigh lakefront paid parking to fund bylaw expansion

READ MORE: Penticton breezeway closed while city installs ‘decorative’ gates

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