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.

Just Posted

Port McNeill Volunteer Fire Department appoints deputy chief

Port McNeill Fire Chief Dean Tait has appointed 10+ year firefighter veteran… Continue reading

Port McNeill in Focus: Childcare Availability Crisis a Good News/Bad News Story

On average, childcare across the country is unavailable, unaffordable, and the quality varies.

Notice of change of operator for Mount Waddington transit services

The Regional District of Mount Waddington (RDMW) and BC Transit have received… Continue reading

Is Steve Nash Vancouver Island’s best athlete of all-time?

As Captain Canada gets ready to enter basketball’s Hall of Fame it’s time to debate his legacy

Who is Vancouver Island’s greatest athlete ever?

We want to know, you get to choose in a 64-athlete tournament bracket

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

SAR scaling back in Kilmer search, but friends will keep looking

Search for 41-year-old Cobble Hill dad hits six-day mark

Rachel Notley to skip premiers conference to focus on pipeline deal

Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project until it receives assurances

B.C. tech company will power Uber Elevate

Moli and Uber announce research and development partnership.

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Defence minister thanks troops for B.C. flood relief work

Harjit Sajjan says not only was military response quick, support from locals has been ‘tremendous’

Still no sign of missing father in Cowichan Valley

Search group for Ben Kilmer now stands 40 SAR volunteers and another 100 friends and concerned community members

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

‘So grateful:’ Injured Bronco hockey player glad he’s alive, works on recovery

Ryan Straschnitzki was badly hurt in the accident: a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and punctured lung

Most Read