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Local Elks hall faces loitering woes

Jul 22, 2014 11:45 am | Sam Macdonald

Delegates from the Elks Lodge 465 met with the Town of St. Paul council during its July 14 regular meeting, to voice their concerns over loitering and vagrancy near the hall.

Elks member Linda Kryzanowski told council, “We have a problem with our people of the street loitering around the Elks Hall. I know they have addictions and it seems like whatever we try to do, it doesn’t help.”

Kryzanowski told council the loitering is making renting the hall difficult. She noted the importance of revenue from hall rentals, as it goes back to the town, particularly to children’s groups.

She said the hall’s caretaker has expressed reluctance about going in to clean the hall since she doesn’t feel safe with as many as five or six vagrants loitering nearby.

Kryzanowski suggested contacting neighbouring communities, the Salvation Army in Edmonton, and the Mannawanis Native Friendship Centre, to see if they could assist in developing a solution.

“I’m just saying we need some help here. Maybe we can put our heads together and come up with something,” she said.

Coun. Norm Noel said one of the problems is that charges are never pressed against vagrants.

“If you lay a charge against them, you can proceed further than just getting them picked up by the RCMP. Right now, they are just getting put in jail and brought out on no charges. If you press charges, you can have an outstanding warrant placed on them, and an injunction not to be near the premises,” he said.

However, Coun. Judy Bogdan noted that the tickets issued to vagrants don’t solve the problem, saying, “They don’t have the money to pay. For some of them, (jail) is a reprieve. It’s bed, regular meals, and a place to sober up.”

Bogdan felt the people loitering on the streets need to be engaged. “They have agreed to do the graffiti cleanup, they’d need to be supervised. They’re looking for a place to belong, to have a purpose.”

Council decided to collaborate with bylaw enforcement, the St. Paul Elks, and the RCMP, to figure out a long-term solution to the loitering problem. In the meantime, council encouraged Kryzanowski to place a ‘no trespassing’ sign outside the hall.

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