Busker program unchanged

It appears there will be no changes to Kelowna's busker program after all.

The city's bylaw division recommended numerous changes to the good neighbour bylaw, including a provision that would have severely restricted street performers in the downtown area.

While council endorsed the series on bylaws by a 5-3 vote last month, numerous side motions were added, including a request for a comprehensive review and public consultation of the city’s busking program.

A follow-up report for this Monday's council meeting recommends the suggested regulations be put on hold.

"Staff will continue to consult with Festivals Kelowna and the artistic community, and conduct a review of the buskers program," the report stated.

"It is expected this review will take place during the 2018 season with a report, outlining any findings and recommendations, coming to council early in 2019. In the meantime, the 20-year-old Kelowna Buskers Program will continue to run year round from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., seven days a week in designated "Busk Stops."

People playing music for their own enjoyment are not considered busking.

Bylaws are also suggesting proposed changes to the panhandling bylaw also be scrubbed.

The report indicates complex social concerns surrounding activities such as panhandling require co-ordinated community responses that address root causes such as homelessness, affordable housing, addictions, mental health issues, disabilities and poverty.

"Feedback and research has shown that the only real solution to these issues is housing.

"The city is continuing to work through the Journey Home process using a housing first approach."

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