Liability issues prevent council from providing public space for homeless

By on December 5, 2017

Vince Sam is the most recognizable homeless person in Osoyoos. (Richard McGuire file photo)

Citing legal liability issues, Town of Osoyoos council voted Monday that it couldn’t proceed with a request to find a permanent site for well-known homeless resident Vince Sam to sleep and store his possessions.

At Monday’s regular meeting, council made public a motion discussed at an in-camera meeting held on Nov. 20 relating to assist Vince.

On Nov. 6, Brenda Dorosz, a founder of the Osoyoos Gift Cupboard and Save Our School committee in Osoyoos, had asked council to consider her request to try and find a place in town where Vince could pitch his tent to sleep and store his personal possessions.

After discussing Vince’s plight, members of council decided to ask staff to prepare a report relating to the issues of homelessness in this community.

At its last regular meeting on Nov. 20, council supported a motion that it would be part of a community-led initiative to tackle the issues surrounding homelessness in Osoyoos.

On Monday, council committed once again to being part of a community approach, but could not support the idea of finding Vince his own personal piece of property within town limits.

“Council certainly does not disagree with people’s right to camp outside if they so wish,” said Mayor Sue McKortoff. “But it’s just that we can’t provide these services.”

Citing liability and the impact on the community and municipal resources, McKortoff said the Town can’t set a precedent to provide a designated space for Vince and other homeless people.

“I’m sure Interior Health would have something to say about it too, if we decided to take that on,” she said. “We’re certainly looking forward to having a committee, perhaps a group that might step forward, and look at dealing with homelessness.”

A staff report clearly indicated the Town currently does not have any facility that would be suitable as a homeless shelter and doesn’t have the necessary infrastructure in place to operate and supervise such a facility.

No community group has yet come forward to lead discussions about forming a homelessness initiative in town.

KEITH LACEY

Osoyoos Times

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One Comment

  1. Franjo

    December 8, 2017 at 10:45 am

    I stay seasonally in Osoyoos during summer for many years and have run into Vince a ton of times. Without a doubt in my mind I trust this man 100%. My friends and I have bought meals for him multiple times and he’s always been polite. There’s just something about sitting in the backyard and having my morning coffee and see Vince walking or riding his bike all happy.

    Lots of times I have friends over and we build up quite the large collection of cans and bottles. I make sure Vince gets every single one and I’m happy to help him. He always comes and picks them up and waves.

    I see so many people around town helping him as well and it honestly says a lot about the people of this community and its visitors.

    I do see he recently got a haircut though! See you in summer buddy.

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