B.C. city to fine those who give cash to panhandlers, buskers

Kelowna City says it plans to review the buskers program in light of public concerns

Kelowna City Hall. Image: Capital News file

Giving to a panhandler from your vehicle while stopped at an intersection in Kelowna, or giving away bottles and cans near a recycling depot will now cost much more than the amount of your donation.

Kelowna’s city council has given initial approval to a host of changes to the panhandling section of its omnibus Good Neighbour bylaw that imposes fines of $250 on well-meaning people who think they are helping those asking for money on the street.

The recyclable donation ban makes it illegal in the city to give away bottles and cans to someone else so they can claim the refund if done so within 500 metres of a recycling depot.

After a lengthy discussion Monday afternoon, council voted 6-3 to approve a long list of changes to the panhandler portion of the bylaw, which also includes allowing panhandling—which is legal in B.C.—between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., reducing the distance from an automated teller machine (ATM) where someone can ask for money to five metres from 10 metres, and making it a ticketable offence to follow someone asking for money if the person being asked has refused.

Another part of the bylaw deals with buskers and council also made changes there, but said it plans to review the entire busker program.

Slammed by an onslaught of public criticism on social media over the weekend after news of the city’s proposed changes to the busker program surfaced, council moved ahead with the changes but said they would conduct the review and consult with the local arts community.

READ MORE: Kelowna councillor to publicly protest his own city’s busking changes

That drew the ire of Coun. Ryan Donn, who slammed the decision to review the program after making changes to it as “ridiculous.”

Included in the changes to the busker program is a requirement all buskers in the city now have a permit if they plan to ask for money. Permits are only available if the busker passes an audition with Festivals Kelowna. Buskers will be limited downtown to specified locations. With a permit, buskers will be allowed to play anywhere else in the city.

But they will be subject to noise complaints and adjudication of what is “noise” will be left up to the discretion of bylaw officers.

City staff say there have been 155 complaints about buskers since 2010 and only four tickets have been handed out. The city says it tries to get compliance rather than levy fines where possible.

Several councillors had concerns about many of the changes to both the panhandling and busking rules.

Donn didn’t like the busking changes, describing it as “criminalizing culture.”

Coun. Brad Sieben said he didn’t like the fines for people who feel they are helping the less fortunate by giving them money or donating bottles and cans. And Coun. Maxine DeHart did not like the move to shorten the distance from an ATM where panhandlers can beg for money.

On the issue of buskers, the city denies it is trying to crush the arts in Kelowna with new rules. It says it is simply an attempt to improve the quality of street entertainment in the city.

Mayor Colin Basran said all cities in Canada that have been highly rated for their arts and culture all have organized busker programs.

In the end, Donn and Sieben and Coun., Charlie Hodge, who also voiced concerns about the busker program rules, voted against the bylaw changes.

Basran agreed with Sieben that the city had not done a good job of explaining why it was doing what it did and as a result, council voted to have its communications department develop a plan to explain to the public why the changes are needed.

On the issue of bottle donations, Basran said he felt giving bottles and cans to people on the street so they can claim the refund rather than taking them to a depot simply “maintains the status quo.” He said he would prefer to see donations made instead to groups that can provide services to help people on the street.

The issue of giving away bottles and cans has led to problems on Kirschner Road, near the bottle depot there. Fights have broken out and the road is also the site of aggressive panhandling, council was told.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Meet the 10-year-old girl who grew a pineapple in northern B.C.

Emily Atkins discovers it takes a lot of patience to grow tropical fruit in a temperate climate

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

Search on for mushroom picker missing from near Kitwanga

Tommy Dennis was last seen Sept 16 wearing blue jeans, black cap, rubber boots, grey checked sweater

Northwest firefighters headed to Oregon to battle wildfires

Over 200 B.C. firefighting personnel will assist in the U.S.

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Most Read