Penticton’s city council is under fire over their Good Neighbour Bylaw amendment which would ban, and fine, sitting or lying on a number of sidewalks in the city.
Roughly 30 residents gathered in Nanaimo Square today to protest the Good Neighbour Bylaw amendment, which they believe is discriminatory against the city’s homeless population.
The amendment that would outlaw sitting or lying on the sidewalks of Main Street, Martin Street and Front Street from May to September 30. If the bylaw is given its third reading on June 4 at the next council meeting, it will go into effect and residents can be fineds $100 if they are found in violation.
Those that took part in the protest on May 25 said they are also upset with the recent lease agreement granted to Petrasek Bakery, 301 Main St., which includes a portion of the sidewalk and benches in Nanaimo Square.
The square has been the home of Monday Night Dinners, a weekly community initiative to feed the less fortunate, which will now be relocating to Sunrise Pharmacy, 749 Main St., as a result of the lease. Organizer Kristine Shepherd said she does not blame the bakery owners but feels this is a tactic by the city to push the homeless population out of the downtown.
Tina Siebert, the city’s bylaw supervisor, said at a council meeting on May 21 that the bylaw would be used with discretion and it’s about “balancing the hammer and the heart.” According to city staff, the city and council have received numerous complaints from downtown business owners and residents about loitering and vagrancy in the downtown.
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