Penticton bylaw officers tore down a “pretty significantly sized” homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday (April 16) morning.
The camp was established in the first week of April, according to Penticton’s bylaw services supervisor Tina Siebert.
Siebert said bylaw received many complaints about the camp before it was torn down.
“We were keeping a really close eye on it and making sure it didn’t grow too big but it was getting quite large and was definitely in an unsafe location,” Siebert said.
Bylaw officers had previously posted a notice at the camp asking the campers to leave. They also worked with the RCMP and fire inspectors before forcing the individuals out from under the bridge Friday morning.
“We cleaned the area up and moved a few individuals along to a different location,” Siebert said.
Siebert said there were only a few people regularly sleeping there but the site was starting to grow in size as the residents brought in more belongings and trash.
“There was more garbage, some sharps and debris, discarded food and that sort of thing,” Siebert said.
“Obviously with any overnight camping it’s important that it remains temporary, it’s not permanent and it has to be treated that way.”
Bylaw wanted to give the campers the opportunity to re-locate on their own and thought posting the notice may motivate them to move along; but the campers did not leave after that, forcing bylaw to remove the camp themselves, Siebert said.
Residents who complained about the camp to bylaw mentioned their concerns about the bridge burning down due to the camp.
“We were like, ‘OK yeah, fair enough,’ it is the access to the city and we have to be cognizant of the structural integrity of the bridge,” Siebert said. “It’s just really about the safety of it.”