Kelowna city Coun. Ryan Donn.—Image: Carli Berry/Capital News

Kelowna councillor to publicly protest busking changes

Ryan Donn says he’ll entertain people in the street in defiance of the city’s new busker bylaw

Kelowna’s mayor says if one of his councillors goes ahead with a protest of the city’s plan to permit all buskers by playing his guitar in public downtown without a permit, and there is a complaint, he’ll be treated like anyone else.

Colin Basran said city bylaw officers will ask Coun. Ryan Donn to stop and go get a permit. If he refuses, only then would he face getting a ticket.

“He’s free to do whatever he so chooses,” said Basran when asked about Donn’s protest that was announced on Facebook Tuesday.

In his post, Donn said once the weather gets better—on June 8—he is planning to “grab his guitar and entertain people” on the street downtown. While he doesn’t say he will do that without a busking permit, that is the inference. He said he will work out details later.

Donn called the city’s decision earlier this week to change the busking program rules first and then review the program “the dumbest bylaw process ever.”

“We should have consulted first then passed the bylaw,” said Donn, who is a musician and worked for Festivals Kelowna before being elected to council.

“I believe that consultation should happen before a bylaw is passed not after. That’s just backwards,” wrote Donn in another Facebook post.

“Farmers are consulted on the (agriculture) plan before it is passed. Developers before we change the DCC’s. Musicians should have been consulted before passing a new bylaw about street entertainers.”

Basran said Donn is free to do what he wants if it comes to a protest.

“But him doing that would show one thing,” said the mayor. “If he chose to do that (without a permit), and somebody were to complain, bylaw (officers) would show up and the first attempt would be (for) compliance.”

And, Basran added, that shows the city is not out to stop buskers. Instead, the mayor defended the city’s move to turn the current voluntary busker permit program into a mandatory one as an attempt to raise the quality of street entertainment in the city.

Currently there are 16 prescribed busker locations downtown where buskers can perform. Under the new rules they would need permits to play there, or in any location outside the downtown core if they expected to make money from donations.

Festivals Kelowna handles the permitting of buskers and performer must pass an audition.

Outside the downtown area, buskers would be allowed to play anywhere as long as they have a licence under the new rules which have yet to be passed by council.

On Monday the change only received initial approval and that must still be be finalized. No date has been set for that to occur.

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