A crowd of people and bicycles occupy the green space at the Penticton Public Library on July 9. The city has had its no sitting or lying on downtown sidewalks bylaw in effect for just over one month, and its effects are mixed. (Photo by Douglas Druin)

City sees mixed results after one month with no sitting, lying on downtown sidewalks bylaw

Penticton bylaw supervisor Tina Siebert said no tickets have been issued for violating the bylaw yet

It’s been just over one month since the City of Penticton passed its controversial no sitting or lying on downtown sidewalks bylaw, and, by all accounts, it seems to have deterred loitering the downtown.

According to Tina Siebert, the city’s bylaw supervisor, so far no tickets have been issued for violating the bylaw, which could amount to a $100 fine for an infraction. Instead, bylaw officers have taken an “educative approach and seems to be working so far.”

“We continue to recieve calls to all areas of the city, calls for service have slightly decreased in the downtown core for the past few weeks though,” said Siebert.

But both Siebert and Penticton RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager don’t believe the reduction is the result of solely just the bylaw, with both saying that many of the bylaw offenders have left the area to work in local orchards. They said this trend of people leaving the downtown area to pursue work elsewhere is one the city sees annually.

“From an RCMP perspective, it’s quite common this time of year to see changes in the downtown. We saw the same effect last year as the pickers go to the orchards,” said De Jager. “Most of our local vulnerable or street-entrenched population typically go else where, which is not to say that they’re not downtown. We have noticed a difference as compared to two months ago though.”

READ MORE: Penticton city council implements no sitting, lying on sidewalks

De Jager said he thinks this decrease can also be contributed to his officers’ 300 hours of foot patrols since April, and the work they’ve been undertaking with their community partners in the CAST program, and the officer-led CSET program. Both programs aim to connect marginalized individuals with resources and supports, with CAST intervening over 50 high-risk individuals to bring them to support services since it was launched in July 2018.

“Corporal Rock and Constable Grandy have gotten three or four people into treatment through CSET with Interior Health and mental health,” said De Jager. “So some of those real social chronics are not there because they’re in treatment. Which is a really good outcome.”

But the effects of this bylaw haven’t been entirely positive, with the city seeing an increase of displacement of vulnerable individuals, who now utilize other public spaces such as the lawn at the Penticton Public Library. De Jager said asking these people to vacate these spaces is not always possible, but his officers work to build relationships so that when they are asked to leave, they are more likely to oblige.

READ MORE: Residents give Penticton a 2.9 out of 5 rating in terms of safety

“We’ve seen this displacement last year as well. But when you push people out of somewhere, they have to go somewhere else. The only reason that the police can physically move somebody is if they are actually breaking the law,” said De Jager. “If they’re not breaking the law, then they only move because we’ve built a relationship with them and we ask them.

“Corporal Laurie Rock and Constable James Grandy have built a great relationship with these people, so they ask them to move and they move. Bylaw has done the same, they’ve built a relationship as well. They move because they feel respected.”

De Jager said ultimately, the solution to vagrancy in the city’s downtown and public spaces is housing. He said residents will soon see a difference in the number of people living on the streets with the recent opening of Compass Courts shelter, and the supportive housing on Winnipeg Street expected to follow suit and open in the fall.

Just Posted

Co-accused in Penticton home invasion, standoff granted bail again

Jesse Mason was granted bail this morning, co-accused Josef Pavlik’s bail was denied

Summerland Fire Department organizes gift drive

Toys and Toonies for Tots and Teens campaign begins at Festival of Lights on Nov. 29

Penticton artist brings joy to others through her painting

Hedy Munawych is 96 years old and just loves painting the beauty of the world around her.

Farm-to-kitchen Italian style pizzeria opens on Penticton’s Westminster Street

Pizzeria Tratto is set up so diners can see their food being made

Okanagan teenagers found after missing for four days

The pair, believed to be dating, had been missing since Nov. 15.

Bye bye Bei Bei: Giant panda born in U.S. zoo heads to China

Panda heads back to China as part of cooperate breeding program

$2.9 million judgment in B.C. blueberry farm sabotage lawsuit

The new owners saw most of their farm ruined just as they took possession

B.C. to more than double sales tax on vaping products

Tax up from 7 to 20 per cent, tobacco tax up two cents

Agreement signed for new Osoyoos Museum facility

The Osoyoos Museum Society lease takes effect Jan. 1, 2020

Spike belt stops stolen truck in Armstrong

Police dog used in search for suspect, one arrested

29 B.C. students in Hong Kong amid tense protests, university siege

Eight UVic and 21 UBC students still in Hong Kong

‘Midget’ no more: Sweeping division name changes coming to minor hockey in Canada

Alpha-numeric division names will be used for the 2020-2021 season and beyond

Ottawa urges CN and union to continue talks as 3,200 workers go on strike

The rail workers began their strike after failing to reach a deal by a midnight deadline

Student tells B.C. Supreme Court she wasn’t allowed to leave Indigenous smudging ceremony

Girl cross-examined Monday in Nanaimo courtroom, case continues Tuesday

Most Read