Protestors gather at a sit-in on June 4 outside of Penticton’s city hall to express their disapproval of the no sitting or lying on the sidewalk bylaw which was passed into effect by council shortly after the event. (Jordyn Thomson - Western News)

June: City council at odds with homeless

Looking back at our biggest stories from each month in 2019

Penticton city council implements no sitting, lying on sidewalks

In June, Penticton city council banned sitting or lying on certain downtown sidewalks during spring and summer months, with a $100 fine for those in violation.

Couns. Campbell Watt and Julius Bloomfield voted against the bylaw amendments, with Bloomfield noting that city staff talked about “balancing the hammer with the heart.”

He felt this bylaw was coming before proper supports are in place to help the city’s homeless population.

Those opposed to the bylaw amendments said they believed it to be discriminatory against this demographic, and many gathered outside city hall prior to the meeting to voice their disapproval.

Couns. Jake Kimberley, Judy Sentes, Katie Robinson and Mayor John Vassilaki all spoke in favour of the bylaw amendments.

Floating the Okanagan River Channel in jeopardy?

Floating down the Okanagan River Channel has been a right of passage for locals and a must-do for tourists for years, but it nearly became a thing of the past.

Mike Campol, director of partnerships and projects for the K’ul Group which oversees Coyote Cruises, was “frustrated” with the City of Penticton and the public’s attitude during recent negotiations with the City of Penticton for a 20-year lease (from the current five years) of the Riverside Park property.

Campol said the business of floating the channel is a two-way street when it comes to land use since the midway and final exit locations are on Penticton Indian Band land.

“There is no channel float if you cannot get off the channel,” said Campol. “It’s the only way this channel float works, you have that mid-point and exit point so you don’t float out into the lake.

“Through all the feedback from the community, feedback from committee meetings, there’s almost this feeling of entitlement (to be) on the band’s parkland, with or without going through a band-owned business, it is disrespectful and I’d hate to see this experience stop.”

Two areas of concern to K’ul were the requirement to go through the revised city parks approval procedure (parkland protection and use policy process) and the potentially high cost of the new lease or license to use permit.

“When you’re appraising for a business that essentially operates two months a year chances are that it’s going to come back as challenging to be able to pay that fee,” said Campol.

“A ton of time and money has already been spent on this to make this experience better for everybody, this is a massive opportunity for the City of Penticton and the PIB to do something significant together.

Campol estimated that 70 per cent of people using the channel do not go through Coyote Cruises.

“There needs to be a true partnership in a way that’s fair, this whole process isn’t fair,” said Campol. “To get any assurance and to make a substantial investment into this we’re being asked to pay potentially five to 10 times what we’re paying for now.

“So there just doesn’t seem to be any consideration, it’s being taken for granted that anybody is just welcome on PIB’s property and that’s not always the case.”

Anthony Haddad, director of development services for the municipality said, “As we put that agreement together we will be working closely with the committee, Coyote Cruises on what that agreement looks like including what value that may be applied to the land as well.”

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