Sitting and sleeping on city sidewalks banned in Kelowna

Kelowna council approved an extension of the existing ban to cover all hours of the day and night.

Kelowna city council has approved a staff plan to make it illegal to sit or sleep on city sidewalks at night

Update: Check out the Kelowna Capital News video interview with Mayor Colin Basran and Randy Benson of the Kelowna Gospel Mission.

Kelowna already prohibits sitting or sleeping on city sidewalks during the day. Now, you can’t do it at night either.

On Monday, council approved—as part of a larger series of “housekeeping” measures—an extension of the existing ban to cover all hours of the day and night.

“The city has grown from a small, rural orchard community to a mid-sized city,” Kelowna’s bylaw services manager Greg Wise told city council Monday prior to council approving the expansion of the ban. “Changes are needed.”

Calling the expansion an additional tool for bylaw enforcement officers, Wise said the current prohibition,which runs from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and carries a $50 fine, is insufficient.

He said as more people head downtown in the evening hours to enjoy what Kelowna has to offer in the way of entertainment, restaurants and recreation, the issue of city sidewalks being blocked has become a bigger issue.

EXTRA: Kelowna’s 2016 point in time count puts number of homeless well over 200

He said the existing daytime ban was put in place in “the old days” and not making it cover an entire 24-hour period was “an oversight.”

In addition to the sidewalk sleeping ban, city council also approved a staff plan to reduce the time it will hold on to property collected from abandoned public encampments to 14 days from the current 60 days. It changed its definition of the term “chattel,” to exclude items such as soiled clothing or bedding, perishable foods and personal hygiene items. They can now be discarded and not kept by the city.

Wise said currently, only about one per cent abandoned items collected by the city from encampments in places such as alleyways and an other city property is claimed. And the city is running out of space to store the rest.

Last week, the city approved a plan to increase the amount of containers supplied by the city’s Gospel Mission for the homeless to store their belongings.

Other changes made by the city as part of the wide-ranging move included restrictions on parking vehicles, particularly unregistered vehicles, for lengthy periods on public streets and the parking of commercial vehicles in residential neighbourhoods.

It also plans to change the word “handicapped” when it comes to special parking zones to “accessible.”