The Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce issued a statement on Friday expressing their support for the transition of the City’s Bylaw Enforcement and Community Safety Officers into Peace Officers.
“The City’s Bylaw Enforcement and Community Safety Team has been crucial in making our city safer and cleaner,” Chamber President Nicole Clark said in the press release.
“And given the thousands of calls they are now responding to each year and the types of issues they are being asked to resolve, it only makes sense that we provide them with the title and legal authority to perform their duties.”
The Chamber commended the city for outlining the expectations around conduct in public spaces and particularly in front of storefronts which they said has so far been missing in the municipal bylaws.
“Everyone has the right to access public spaces, and businesses also have the right to ensure that access to their property is not compromised with unwanted activity or obstructions that could create hesitation in- or prevent customers from entering,” Michael Magnusson, the Chamber’s executive director said. “I am glad that our community safety bylaws are being updated to a level that’s commonplace in urban centres.”
The Chamber said they were glad to see Penticton taking the first step in bringing the Car 40 program into action, despite Interior Health choosing Kelowna and Kamloops.
"Discussions also need to take place within the city and with the province that focuses on plans to expand complex care facilities so that first-stage housing isn’t the only stage of housing for those wanting to break the cycle they’ve become trapped in."
At Tuesday's meeting, council voted to give the new bylaw a first reading, sending it to the public and provincial health officers for review and engagement.
Bylaw services manger Tina Mercier previously said she and her team are familiar with many of the street-entrenched individuals in the city, and that they offer to assist in finding appropriate social services when the help is welcomed.
Final decisions on the bylaw will be put to vote later in the spring after public engagement.