Penticton council OKs controversial bylaw restricting sitting on downtown sidewalks | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton council OKs controversial bylaw restricting sitting on downtown sidewalks

Penticton City Council voted in favour of bylaw amendments to the city's good neighbour bylaw which would restrict sitting or laying in the city's main streets during the summer months at yesterday's council meeting, May 21, 2019.
May 22, 2019 - 10:23 AM

PENTICTON - Citing a need for efficient use of downtown sidewalk space, an amendment to Penticton’s good neighbour bylaw to restrict sitting or laying down during the summer months was passed by Penticton city council at yesterday’s meeting.

Development services manager Anthony Haddad told council the city faced “a balancing need” downtown, saying sidewalk space was in big demand and was to be used by all. He said proposed changes to the bylaw would ensure downtown pedestrians had a safe, enjoyable experience and ensure convenient access to business.

Council reluctantly agreed to the changes, which would restrict laying or sitting on the sidewalk between May 1 and Sept. 30 in the 100 to 300 blocks of Ellis Street, the 200 to 400 blocks of Martin Street or the 100 to 700 blocks of Main Street, subject to a $100 fine.

Coun. Campbell Watt expressed his discomfort with the bylaw, asking how the city planned to enforce it.

Coun. Julius Bloomfield predicted a “tough summer” with the bylaw, noting social housing projects currently under construction in the city weren’t ready for the city’s homeless.

“You mentioned balancing hammer and heart. I haven’t seen much heart today,” Bloomfield said to bylaw supervisor Tina Siebert.

“I’d like to hear what the public has to say. I know there is a lot of support for this, but I know there’s a lot of concern as well,” he said.

Coun. Jake Kimberley noted those who sat in the street could use the city’s benches with impunity.

He urged bylaw officers to use discretion in their approach, advocating having those in violation of the bylaw pick up garbage, or perform some other civic-minded function instead of levying a $100 fine they wouldn’t likely be able to pay.

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