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Penticton’s Good Neighbour bylaw was met with heavy criticism, and now another BC community is addressing homelessness in a similar fashion.
On Monday, Salmon Arm city council voted to fine those soliciting for money on the streets $50.
Only on council member was in opposition to the fine.
“I’m prepared to vote against this and I think everybody knows why,” said Councillor Sylvia Lindgren.
“I don’t see how fining people that live on the streets is going to help. I don’t know that they’re going to be able to pay the fine so I’m having a hard time getting to the point where I can support this.
“Maybe over the next three years i’ll change my opinion but at this point I’ll be voting against.”
Salmon Arm city councillor Louise Wallace-Richmond was in support of the bylaw, and said that,
ironically, its existence prevents the criminalization of poverty.
She explained that RCMP and bylaw officers can write tickets for violations under this bylaw instead of under the Safe Streets Act, which would result in a criminal charge.
“Once it gets to Safe Streets Act and the RCMP is called and there’s a criminal charge, it’s out of our hands and we’ve lost the opportunity,” she said.
“I have zero expectation that it will be issued other than in an extreme circumstance.”
Mayor Alan Harrison said that he originally did not support the bylaw, however he was reassured by city staff who said that writing these tickets would be “extremely rare.”
“I was not originally not in favour of a bylaw, but knowing that we’re going to be using this softly to me is important but I think it has to have the fines tied to it,” he said.
Penticton’s controversial bylaw amendment made it so that people laying or sitting on certain sidewalks could be fined $100. The decision was criticized for criminalizing homelessness.