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2 fires in 2 weeks at downtown Vernon apartment

Residents tired of homeless lighting fires, doing drugs, leaving garbage

Residents of a predominantly senior complex are concerned for their safety after extinguishing the second fire in two weeks.

Swan Brooke Estates, in downtown Vernon, has been plagued with people doing drugs in the parking lot, break-ins and garbage and drug paraphernalia littered on the grounds.

The last straw came for many on Tuesday, Jan. 31 when one of the residents headed outside to shovel the snow at 7 a.m.

“He found a homeless person curled up in the corner,” said a neighbour, who wished to remain anonymous.

It wasn’t the person trying to find warmth that was upsetting, it’s what he left behind.

After the resident asked the man to leave, it was discovered that he had been hiding a fire in the parking shelter, next to a storage unit and electrical outlet.

“We are extremely lucky it did not spread because we would have been trapped.”

This is the second fire in less than two weeks at the 55 plus apartment, following a dumpster fire.

“We’ve had a number of break-ins to our vehicles and we’ve also seen a number of people doing drugs in our lane way and leaving their needles.”

The residents are upset these actions are continuing despite an increased police presence since needles were found in a nearby daycare’s playground.

Police have been called, but the residents are told there isn’t much that can be done.

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP said they conduct regular patrols of hot spot areas, including this neighbourhood, and respond to requests from the community to assist with unwanted persons.

“However, managing this issue is not solely the responsibility of the police,” said Inspector Blake MacLeod, operations officer, in response to the daycare needle discovery. ”We work with City of Vernon bylaw officers who will attend to collect discarded drug paraphernalia in a safe manner and we meet regularly with local health authorities and non-profit organizations to discuss engagement with these clients at the ground level.”

READ MORE: RCMP investigate after children poked by needles in Vernon playground

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Drug paraphernalia and garbage plague the downtown Vernon Swan Brook Estates complex. (Contributed)
A fire was started by a homeless person in a parking shed at Swan Brook Estates in downtown Vernon Jan. 31. (Bowen Assman - Morning Star)

Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

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