Restrictions on activities such as panhandling as well as sitting and lying on public streets are being considered for certain areas of the downtown core as part of the amendments to the City of Quesnel’s nuisance bylaw. (Observer file photo)

City of Quesnel to fine panhandlers, homeless people lying in streets

Council adopts several new bylaws after residents and business owners complain about overall crime

Panhandlers and homeless people in Quesnel are subject to fines after city councillors passed a number of bylaw amendments this week aimed at making the city safer.

The rules now restrict lying, sitting or loitering in specified downtown areas from May 1 to Sept. 30, with fees charged to offset the cost of responding to repeat calls.

Fines are $100 for the first offence, $300 for the second offence, and $500 for anything more. Behaviours targeted are sitting or lying on the street, causing a disturbance, panhandling in a restricted area, depositing rubbish, and consuming or possessing liquor.

“The goal of this policy is to minimize behaviours that have been reported to the City as those which discourage community members and tourists from utilizing the revitalized downtown,” wrote Tanya Turner, the city’s director of development services, in a report tabled to council on Aug. 27. The amendments were approved Sept. 3.

When asked how one can charge somebody who has no money on them, Turner told the meeting there are other reasons to take enforcement actions and have a record of it.

“Our main objective is not to obtain money; it’s to change behaviour,” she said.

READ MORE: Kelowna to fine those who give cash to panhandlers, buskers

The new policy is one of many aimed at improving crime rates and other “nuisance” behaviours, following a rally at City Hall in which angry and scared demonstrators shared stories of being beat up during a home invasion, finding needles behind a kids’ dance studio, of a son’s skull crushed by a baseball bat.

Turner outlined other measures the city has taken, such as adding two RCMP officers and five bylaw enforcement officers, re-locating the bylaw enforcement office to to increase visibility, using private security at special events, and working more with health officials on mental health and food security supports.

Mayor Bob Simpson said case law and the constitution do not favour municipalities taking these steps, making note of sit-ins in Penticton against panhandling being a crime, following similar bylaw changes there.

“As a council, we have to find the fine line between an individual’s right to safety and people’s rights to being on the street,” he said.

“We tried to find something we can warrant and justify that respects an individual’s right to public space but gives us tools to ensure that public space is safe.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Cowichan residents invited to apply for seats on affordable housing committees

“Lack of affordable housing is a critical issue in the Cowichan region”

Vandalism reports at two Duncan campaign headquarters

Offices of NDP Alistair MacGregor and Liberal Blair Herbert targeted

Antique chainsaws stolen from BC Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan

Public asked to keep a look out for stolen items

VIDEO: Hold onto your funny bones: Ron James is back on the Island

He’s been called ‘a genius’, and ‘funniest man in Canada’. Find out why when he comes to town.

Chemainus campground on the chopping block as ALC deadline looms

Owners fighting to continue facility’s operation, with a huge outpouring of support

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Vancouver Island man bikes through B.C. Interior for mental health, addiction awareness

Vancouver Island Resident Mat Fee is approaching the final phase of his cross-Canada bike journey to raise awareness about addiction recovery.

Police investigate after intoxicated teens clash with security at B.C. fair

18-year-old woman arrested and RCMP looking at possible assault in Victoria-area fall fair incident

BC SPCA investigating after three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man accused in Salmon Arm church shooting

Lawyer tells court accused was diagnosed with psychosis hours after his arrest

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Most Read