Penticton homeless man Paul Braun (left) sits with his lawyer, Paul Varga, at a sit-in at Braun’s usual panhandling perch. About 25 people showed up to support Braun as the city takes him to court over a panhandling dispute.                                Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Penticton homeless man Paul Braun (left) sits with his lawyer, Paul Varga, at a sit-in at Braun’s usual panhandling perch. About 25 people showed up to support Braun as the city takes him to court over a panhandling dispute. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Sit-in takes aim at City of Penticton’s panhandling squabble

About 25 people showed up Tuesday to support Paul Braun, taken to court over a panhandling dispute

About 25 people showed up to a sit-in at the Main Street breezeway in Penticton Tuesday in support of a local street person facing court action from city hall over a panhandling dispute.

Though Paul Braun hasn’t been at his regular spot in the breezeway as often lately, he was at his perch Tuesday by noon, with a cohort of supporters slowly filtering in, including his legal representative, Paul Varga, who sat beside him.

“They all know what’s going on. It’s no secret,” Braun said of his supporters, adding it felt good to have a show of solidarity. “The only people that think it’s wrong is the city. And they think it’s wrong while standing in front of the (kindness) meter that’s doing the same thing.”

Related: Four-day trial set in Penticton panhandling case

Between noon and 12:30 p.m., the crowd grew to about 25 from 15, as supporters slowly trickled in and out and passed by offering hugs, while one attendee even made a pot of soup for the small rally.

“I think that it’s not right that people are targeted just because they don’t have a job or they’re homeless or what have you,” said Sherri Morrison, who brought the soup. “I’ve seen a lot of street people, and I’ve walked by Paul many times and he’s never said a mean thing or been aggressive.”

Christine Volk, one of the organizers of the Monday night dinners for the homeless in Nanaimo Square, said she showed up to bring more awareness to the issue, saying she has seen negativity toward the homeless population in other instances, herself.

Related: Lawyer concerned city pre-writing tickets for Penticton street person

“Certainly, reading in the news, you can see in the articles all the time … where people are talking against the homeless. You know, ‘why are they here, close down things so that they’ll move on,’” she said.

“Even at Nanaimo Square we’ve had some trouble, where the bylaw would like it moved to another location because people want to, in their words, ‘take back the square,’ but it is a public place. These are the citizens of our town, and we need to have compassion because that could be any of us.”

That was a sentiment shared by another attendee, who said there aren’t enough housing alternatives for someone if they lose a source of income.

“Where do we go then? We don’t have alternatives in Penticton. Where is there a decent place to rent? $1,200 a month is not low income,” Betty Mahar said. “They make tickets up at the office, and then they throw them in his lap when going by. That’s pathetic.”

Related: Lawyer takes aim at City of Penticton’s ‘war on the homeless’

The city has handed Braun eight $110 tickets for violating section 5.2 of the Good Neighbour Bylaw, which prohibits panhandling “in a manner to cause an obstruction,” which is defined as being within 10 metres of a pedestrian walkway.

Braun has not paid the tickets, amounting to $880 in total, and the city handed him a subpoena to appear in court in late fall last year. Though Varga has characterized the city’s tack on the issue as a “war on the homeless,” the city took aim at that phrasing in a public statement released Tuesday in advance of the sit-in.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Braun is not homeless and has a residence,” the city’s statement read, referring to Braun now living at the Fairhaven social housing project.

“Mr. Braun continues to defy the Bylaw and has rejected what the media has quoted as a ‘sweetheart deal’ from the city prosecutor that would require Mr. Braun to simply comply with the bylaw.”

Related: City of Penticton taking homeless man to court

The “sweetheart deal” the city mentioned refers to the wording city lawyer Troy DeSouza used to describe a city offer to cut the legal action if Braun agrees to pay $100 and obey the bylaw, and Varga took issue with the city referencing the offer.

“My understanding of our negotiations was between the city’s lawyer and myself, and not between the media and him,” Varga said. “Now, if he’s wanting to release the details on that without prejudice communication, I guess you should release the whole thing.”

DeSouza has also taken aim at Varga in the past for speaking to the media about the case, telling the court in a hearing last week it was the city’s “preference to try this in the court of law,” not the court of public opinion.

The issue is set to go to trial from Sept. 11-14, with a pretrial conference set for late June.

Related: Homeless Penticton man receives multiple tickets


@dustinrgodfrey

dustin.godfrey@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Asia Youngman (right) is pictured shooting another short film she wrote and directed titled Hatha. (Luba Popovic)
Peachland set to star in fantasy thriller film about N’xaxaitk’w — a.k.a. the Ogopogo

The film will follow an Indigenous teen as she navigates peer pressure, bullying and identity

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

Danny Fulton receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 27. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Drop-in COVID-19 vaccine clinic planned for Kelowna

Clinic at Kelowna Secondary School from June 22 to 24 from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Jeanette Megens
KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read