The pair who pitched a tent beside Penticton’s iconic Peach, blocking Penticton Chamber offices, are well known to Penticton bylaw officers, said Tina Siebert, bylaws supervisor.
Pentictonites took to social media and called the bylaw department when a large tent, surrounded by about 10 bikes and bike parts popped up against the washrooms, blocking the Penticton Chamber office across from the Peach. It’s a busy walking route along Okanagan Lake on Lakeshore Drive.
“We got a lot of calls about this and the two people sleeping there are well known to us,” said Tina Siebert, head of Penticton’s bylaw department.
“They are known to us as rough sleepers. But this was not an ideal location for them to be. They were blocking Chamber staff from getting in the building and impacting the use of the washrooms,” said Siebert.
The pair weren’t happy about moving but bylaws gave them a time-frame to move along.
“They had a lot of items with them so we had to give them some time to throw some stuff out and pack out other items. We assisted Chamber staff with getting into their building safely,” she said. “There was quite a bit of drug paraphernalia left behind so we disposed of that safely as well.”
In the meantime, bylaws was dealing with nearly 10 more calls for other things.
“We get people are frustrated. We live and breath it. But it’s a very complex issue that requires a collaborative approach,” she said. “These issues are in every community and this isn’t going to go away anytime soon.”
Siebert said this time of year, as the weather warms up, more people will transition from indoors to outdoor sleeping.
There doesn’t seem to be more people from last year, said Siebert.
But along with other agencies, bylaws will be helping out with a count of those sleeping rough to get a more accurate picture of how many people are experiencing homelessness in Penticton.
That count will take place sometime in April.
“I want to thank the public. They are our eyes and ears. If you see something give us a call or send a photo. We can’t be everywhere so this helps,” she said.
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