"IF HE'D UNPLUGGED AND GONE BACK TO ACOUSTIC BUSKING THIS WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN AN ISSUE."
KELOWNA - Michael Elliott hasn’t played his guitar or sang downtown since Saturday.
Elliot has been doing it off and on for months, and several businesses on the corner of Water Street and Bernard Avenue told him they like having him there.
He says he’s never had a complaint but on Friday, March 10 a Kelowna bylaw officer approached, said his amplifier was too loud and asked for his permit.
“He said some confusing, misleading things about the bylaw and how it pertains to busking… and asked me to show my busking licence,” he says. “He wasn’t exactly familiar with the bylaw.”
Although a busking licence through Festivals Kelowna is only required if you want to set up at one of the 14 locations identified on the City of Kelowna website, the city says there is much more to the story than what is revealed in a video Elliott released to Facebook this week.
Bylaw services manager Greg Wise says in his rush to feel persecuted he misunderstood what the officer was asking him.
“There isn’t a ticket for busking, this is a noise ticket,” he says. “(The bylaw officer) was trying to clarify if he had a permit for amplified busking. There was a lot that happened before Michael started filming.”
Wise says bylaw warned Elliott to keep the volume down in the past and when he refused to show his permit to use an amplifier he had little recourse but to issue the $500 fine.
“He was trying to see the permit to understand the volume settings,” he says. “It’s the last thing we want to see happen. This is an unfortunate circumstance but only a certain component was aired. There’s a bit of a second side of this."
“If he’d unplugged and gone back to acoustic busking this wouldn’t have been an issue.”
Elliott says he cannot afford to pay the ticket but is unsure how to appeal.
Wise says it’s easy and that the city considers busking to be a beneficial component of a vibrant downtown.
The City of Kelowna sent out a media release Friday, March 17 saying the $500 fine has been revoked.
“Although we have issued warnings to this performer last summer and even the day before he was ticketed, we are willing to try again," Rob Mayne, divisional director of Corporate and Protective Services, says in the release. "We want to arrive at a solution that is fair to all the other buskers who do comply with the rules."
- This story was updated at 3:20 p.m. March 17, 2017 to include a staement from the city saying the fine has been revoked.
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