Kelowna’s panhandling and busking crackdown abandoned

Kelowna’s panhandling and busking crackdown abandoned

Area residents were heard, and the city is abandoning its panhandling and busking crackdown

After significant community feedback, Kelowna city hall is abandoning the implementation of bylaws that would have penalized people for donating bottles to panhandlers in certain locations and limited busking locations.

“The proposed amendments generated significant public feedback about the conditions under which panhandling could occur to ensure that both the panhandler and the public are protected and about the new street entertainment guidelines,” reads a report to city council from Rob Mayne, divisional director of corporate and protective services.

“Hearing the feedback, Sections 7 and 8, the Panhandling and Street Entertainment sections have been removed from proposed updates to the Good Neighbour Bylaw including the proposal to levy fines on donors. The existing bylaw will remain in place.”

READ MORE: BUSKER BAN RAISES CONCERNS

Concerns with panhandling for bottles were focused around a bottle depot on Kirschner Road. It received 200 complaints since January 2016, and the report indicates that issue is clearing itself up.

Complaints about the Columbia Bottle Depot included defecating and urinating on private property, open liquor and drug use, drug trafficking and approaching and harassing people for bottles. There have also been medical emergencies, threats to local business staff, flagging down cars to ask for bottles and canvas and blocking sidewalks.

The city and RCMP are working to ensure the safety of employees and the public and the bottle depot has worked to implement policies that will negate some of these issues. And the Columbia Bottle Depot is up this fall and will not be renewed.

City council gave initial approval to a host of changes to the panhandling section of its omnibus Good Neighbour bylaw in March.

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. The penalty, had it not been abandoned, would have been $250.

Another part of the bylaw dealt with buskers being restricted in where they play.

The report will go to council on Monday.