Difficulties involving vandalism, human feces and drug paraphernalia at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds will be tackled with a coordinated approach.
On the advice of the city’s Social Impact Advisory Committee, city council voted unanimously on Dec. 14 to convene a meeting with community partners to develop a coordinated approach to support the Salmon Arm and Shuswap Lake Agricultural Association (SASLAA) regarding issues at the fairgrounds. The association leases the property from the city, runs the fall fair and holds other events.
People who are without homes have been using the grounds and some of the buildings, creating or contributing to concerns.
In early November, council responded to a letter from a resident who walks their dog at the fairgrounds. They wrote about issues of unsanitary conditions and safety, including a fire pit under the grandstand.
The letter suggested that if the people living there can’t be moved to a better location, perhaps a general clean-up could be held and a porta-potty left there.
At that time, Coun. Sylvia Lindgren, the city’s rep on the agricultural association board, said she would bring back information to council. She reported at the Dec. 14 council meeting that issues continue such as “littering and vandalism and creative use of bathrooms that don’t exist and safety issues, that sort of thing.”
She said SASLAA members have discussed what their options are. They’ve hired a security guard to try and keep problems to a minimum and they’ve considered putting locks on the gate at night. However, before they do that, they want to find out if there are other actions to take.
City staff said the meeting being convened will involve SASLAA, city departments such as the fire department, the RCMP, the parks department as well as other community stakeholders.
Lindgren said the hope is to get everyone on board, all using the same approach.
“It’s an issue that the city is pretty familiar with. We know for sure this is not the only place this is happening, and the best approach is a coordinated approach… We want to treat people with dignity and respect but we also need to keep in mind that it’s expensive to be monitoring these things all the time and it’s exhausting for volunteers to be out, spending the night at the fairgrounds trying to assess what’s going on. So if city staff could be on board with helping, I’d be happy to be involved, and we’d certainly appreciate it.”