New panhandling bylaw could create no-go zones around banks, liquor stores in Kelowna - InfoNews

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New panhandling bylaw could create no-go zones around banks, liquor stores in Kelowna

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February 26, 2018 - 4:00 PM

KELOWNA - Expect restrictions on panhandling near banks and liquor stores in Kelowna under a revamped panhandling bylaw. And giving your bottles or money away in certain areas could net you a fine, too.

Bylaw services manager David Gazley gave Kelowna city council today, Feb. 26, a glimpse of a revamped panhandling bylaw after Coun. Ryan Donn expressed concerns about its potential for “criminalizing the homeless."

Gazley told council the new bylaw would set limits around panhandling rather than try to harass people who do it or forbid it completely.

“We don’t want to make criminals out of panhandlers,” Gazley said. “They have a right to earn a living."

Gazley said he’s considering a no-panhandling zone around banks and cash machines as well as liquor stores, but it will also feature restrictions on the other side of the transaction.

“A lot what we’re talking about here is folks who are actually contributing to or enabling the problem,” he said. “So a lot of the news rules... will be about setting up perimeters to not give bottles or monies to folks that are panhandling in those areas, causing traffic issues or... making it dangerous.”

Public safety is an issue with banks and cash machines of particular concern.

“We want to avoid those situations as well, so they're not saying ‘we know you just got money from the bank,'" he said.

A revamped panhandling bylaw will be added to the so-called Good Neighbour bylaw, a catchall that groups together noise, litter, nuisance and unsightly premises violations.

Kelowna council adopted the super-bylaw last fall giving officers for the first time the ability to attach monetary fines to property taxes of repeat offenders.

Kelowna already has a bylaw prohibiting the obstruction of sidewalks; a regulation some critics say is aimed solely at controlling the homeless.

A final recommendation on the panhandling bylaw will be returned to council very soon, Gazley said.

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