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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wrong-way driver triggers multi-vehicle collision on Highway 99 in South Surrey

Police received multiple reports of vehicle heading north in southbound lanes

Delta Nature Reserve boardwalk realignment to begin this fall

Stretch of boardwalk to be rebuilt to make room for new Highway 91/Nordel Way vehicle ramp

North Delta crime beat, week of July 28

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

South Delta crime beat, week of July 28

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

Remembering Brent Carver: A legend of Broadway who kept his B.C. roots strong

Over the years, the Cranbrook thespian earned his place as one of Canada’s greatest actors

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Canada ‘profoundly concerned’ over China death sentence for citizen in drug case

Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms of the drug from Xu Weihong’s home

Answers to 5 common questions facing families for the COVID-19 school year

COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

Four activists face charges linked to 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

Mischief and break-and-enter charges laid for incidents on four separate days prior to the protest

Most Read