The Downtown Penticton Association has decided how they are going to deal with people wanting to set up at the Community Market to collect signatures for their petitions.
Rather than restrict the number of spaces available to petitioners, the DPA board of directors decided to introduce a code of conduct.
The decision comes after concerns were raised at a community market earlier this month, when complaints that one group was being too aggressive seeking signatures for their petition. Initially, the DPA responded by restricting the number of petitions to one per market day.
“We are going to hand it (the code of conduct) out to all of our vendors and enforce it that way,” said Kerri Milton, the DPA’s executive director.
“If someone isn’t behaving properly in the market, then we have the right to call in both bylaw and the RCMP to handle this situation. And also to not invite them back, should they continue.”
Milton said the board was united in wanting to keep the atmosphere at the market upbeat and attract an eclectic group of people.
“We do have expectations for everyone, all vendors, it doesn’t matter what it is, petitions whatever,” she said.“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however, we do have to enforce a behavioural code of conduct: Respectful to other people, kind within the market, understand that the other vendors are there to make their money.
“It is their job. We can’t disrupt them and we need to honour that.”
Milton said the board decided not to limit the number of petitioners, in considering that it is unusual to have more than one.
“Right now, because of the political climate, there are a million petitions, but this is the first time we have been in this position,” she said. Petition groups will have to pay the same $20 drop-in fee as other sidewalk vendors, unless they are part of a not-for-profit group.
“Someone like the Dogwood Initiative is a registered society, so they would pay the $10 fee.”
By taking this approach, Milton said they will be able to accommodate different groups of people collecting petitions, and not have to decide between groups.
“The DPA is a nonpartisan office, we don’t have a political agenda,” said Milton. “The whole idea is to bring tourists and locals alike into our downtown, so they shop and spend their money. We are not a political forum. We are not set up to be that, nor do we desire to be that.
“However, we also appreciate that the market is a really great vehicle to spread your word and get a lot of attention.”