Salmon Arm introduces $50 street begging fine - InfoNews

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Salmon Arm introduces $50 street begging fine

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July 12, 2019 - 10:50 AM

Salmon Arm has passed a bylaw allowing them to dish out $50 fines to those panhandling on the city's streets.

The bylaw passed by council July 8, is an extension to an earlier bylaw approved in May that banned panhandling throughout the city. The amendment means that those who break the bylaw by begging while sitting on the sidewalk, approaching a vehicle, or by begging within 15 metres of a bank machine can now be fined $50. The bylaw also prohibits "general solicitation" in the city.

The move follows in the footsteps of Kamloops, Kelowna and Penticton who have similar bylaws, although at $50 the fine is lower than other cities that chose fines of $100.

Mayor Alan Harrison told the meeting he was originally not in favour of the bylaw but had since changed his mind.

"Knowing that we are going to be using this softly to me is important, but I think it has to have the fines tied to it," Mayor Harrison said. "I think writing tickets for this bylaw would also be extremely rare, as we would try to communicate with people."

The only member of council to vote against the fine, Councillor Sylvia Lindgren, questioned the logic of fining people who didn't have any money.

"I don't see how fining people that live on the streets is going to help," Lindgren said. "I don't know if they'll be able to pay the fine."

The staff report on the matter says it is not the City's intention to use the ticketing system as a "primary method of achieving compliance". The report says fines would only be issued as a "last resort."

Staff also told council the bylaw would now allow the issue to be dealt with as a municipal offence instead of a criminal offence under provincial laws.

Coun. Louise Wallace-Richmond, who voted in favour of the bylaw, said she expected fines would only be issued in "extreme circumstances" and that it was not the city's intention to criminalize poverty.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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