City looking at solutions to beach squatter problem

The family has been set up on the beach near the landfill for at least a month

The City of Grand Forks says it will take action against a family currently camping on a public beach.

For at least a month, the family has been camped on Bare Ass Beach, off Granby Road near the regional landfill. The location is not an official park, but is a popular location and city property.

The family of four, including two minors, have been staying on the beach with their trailer and pet pit bulls, which members of the community have described as being aggressive.

Sgt. Darryl Peppler of the Grand Forks RCMP confirmed that the department had received calls about the squatters, but pointed out that they do not have the authority to remove the family from the area.

Recently, the RCMP accompanied city workers to map the area with GPS in order to determine whether it fell into the city boundary or it was the responsibility of the Regional District of the Kootenay Boundary.

Brandy Rafuse, bylaw enforcement officer for the regional district, said in an email that they had received complaints about the family. She also noted that the beach falls within the city limits and is out of her area of authority.

With the confirmation of the jurisdiction, the issue has fallen back to the city to resolve.

“The wheels are turning; we’re not ignoring the situation,” said Grand Forks Mayor Brian Taylor. “We’re attempting to deal with it, dealing with all of the principals involved.”

The city is working with RCMP and Conservation Officers in finding a way to remove the family. They’ve not yet decided on what approach to take.

“We are considering all options,” said Taylor. “The solution would have them move out of there, that would the purpose of it at this point, as to how we’re going to get to that I can’t say.”

The City of Grand Forks currently has a bylaw that forbids camping on city property. It does allow a homeless individual to set up a temporary camp for one day in a public space if there is no other shelter accommodation accessible.

Any plan to solve the community’s issue may not be immediately put into action.

“We have bylaws in place, but the difficulty for cities is enforcement,” said Taylor.

“The precedents being set in the Lower Mainland, in terms of moving people off of city or Crown property, are being written at this point in the courts.”

The Grand Forks Gazette reached out to the family for comment, but did not receive a response before the time of printing.

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