North Battleford can’t legally ban panhandlers, but administration is looking to amend the current bylaw to increase restrictions on how close they can be to many businesses.
The bylaw currently prohibits panhandlers from operating within 10 metres of any doorway to a beer, liquor or wine store, a bank or cash machine and bus stops. City administration asked council to increase the distance to 100 metres at last night’s council meeting.
City manager, Jim Puffalt, told council the city wants to increase police and Community Safety Officer presence downtown in addition to expanding the distance for panhandlers.
“We will be issuing tickets to panhandling and other improper behaviour to address some issues we don’t want to see downtown,” Puffalt said. “The amendments are bold and there are four in total.”
Another change is to include pawn shops, quick cash locations and any business with a licence from SLGA in the bylaw.
For perspective on what 100 metres would look like, administration gave an example of each city block being roughly 150 metres in length.
The amendments could have been passed last night if council voted unanimously on all three readings, however that wasn’t case. Coun. Kent Lindgren and Coun. Don Buglas both voted against continuing with a third reading. Lindgren didn’t think the amendments were a good look for the city.
“I don’t see increasing the distance as solving the problem,” Lindgren said. “I also heard someone from the food bank say that someone told them they want them [the homeless] to be using the back alley. There are people in our community that have every right to be in our community and to me this goes against really good governance of people in the community. For that reason I will be voting against it.”
The bylaw amendments can be passed at the next council meeting with a majority vote, which seems a likely scenario considering Lindgren and Buglas were the only councillors opposed to the changes.
On Twitter @realgreghiggins
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