EXPULSION LETTERS AND INCREASED ENFORCEMENT A RESOUNDING SUCCESS WITH VAGRANT BEHAVIOUR ON TOWN PROPERTY
Posted on 12 September 2012 by Mathew White
Turn back the clock a couple of months and the tone in and around Osoyoos was much different than what it is today.
Residents and tourists alike were faced with disruptive, illegal and downright rude behaviour from a number of transient workers who had decided to take over the town’s parks and beaches for what was shaping up to be the entire summer.
But as town hall was flooded with hundreds of complaints, action was taken in the form of expulsion letters and increased enforcement on town property, both by the RCMP and town bylaw officers.
The result? A cleaner, safer and all-around better Osoyoos for everyone.
“I think it went pretty well,” said Sgt. Kevin Schur with the Osoyoos RCMP.”It allowed us to address some issues with some tools we just didn’t have before, which was very helpful.”
The tools Schur speaks of are Temporary Park Expulsion letters – an item the RCMP has been handing out to the most disruptive individuals.
Basically, the letters allowed the RCMP to ban a person(s) from all of the town’s parks and beaches until the end of September.
Those who chose to ignore the letters were then faced with the possibility of massive fines and/or jail time.
This is the first year the RCMP have been able to use the tactic (the bylaw allowing the letters only passed last year) and Schur said it was a great tool that worked quickly and efficiently.
“There was only maybe five or six letters issued and we didn’t have any reoccurrences, so it worked,” he said. “We definitely noticed it had an impact on the people on the beaches, as far as their behaviour. That, plus the extra enforcement we did with the funding from the town, I think it worked for sure.”
With the peak tourist season now past for another summer, the increased enforcement has also come to an end, with bylaw and RCMP officers returning to their normal hours.
Mayor Stu Wells said the town budgeted up to $10,000 for the increased enforcement, split between the bylaw officers and the RCMP.
It was money well spent, he said.
“It was very successful,” he said. “This year the bylaw officers were really having a hard time with this year’s crowd and it really did change when the RCMP got involved. And the RCMP was also handing out those letters of expulsion from the parks and it became a criminal offence if you were going to go back, so all of a sudden people started understanding that we were taking this very seriously.”
Wells said the town will “absolutely” be looking into something similar for next year, but he plans on rolling out the program a lot sooner.
“Next year we won’t be playing catch up, we’ll be being proactive,” he said.
“It will be a lot sooner. Into that May-June window.”
Schur also said the RCMP is planning on making this a priority much earlier on in the season next year.