April 18, 2018 3:56 pm

City still wants to sort out busker issue after pilot project fails on Whyte Avenue

Edmonton tried to license buskers but a city report found it wasn't that successful.


The idea of regulating buskers along Whyte Avenue isn’t dead, but it is going to be tweaked a bit.

Council’s community services committee Wednesday asked Edmonton police to keep working with the business community in Old Strathcona to get a handle on how loud things can get.

READ MORE: Effort to regulate Whyte Ave buskers a bust, Edmonton report finds

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Const. Michael Schnurer, who walks the beat from the Old Strathcona station, said most buskers are looking for rules. Edmonton police have approached city staff to help write the bylaw to sort everything out.

“The asks that we had are for some guidelines for proximity to hotels, business entryways during the hours that they’re open, and then a potential shut down time, or decibel level to enforce. I don’t think that’s a crazy amount of asking,” Schnurer told reporters.

Councillor Scott McKeen, the chair of the committee, said the entertainment is in the eye of the beholder. He said while he might enjoy a bagpiper for a couple of minutes, he can understand how a business owner might feel differently if the performance lasts a couple of hours outside of a store.

Where McKeen thinks a line should be drawn, is with one individual who has fashioned drums out of large plastic containers. He said it can last well past a reasonable hour.

“(He) whacks away on it with no apparent rhythm and puts his hat out or whatever and may continue to bang away on said plastic container ’til two in the morning, with this arrhythmia ringing out into the night.”

Police and bylaw have tried to monitor things, said Ryan Pleckaitis, the city’s director of complaints and investigations.

“I understand that EPS did issue some tickets for street preaching. It has some legal challenges with that so it was unsuccessful but it might be a different set of circumstances when dealing with amplification, loud music, (being) late at night.”

Schnurer declined comment, because the street preacher incident wasn’t handled by his unit.

The committee asked for more work to be done on the file, and that police engage with street performers in crafting the policy. Schnurer is looking forward to it.

“I think that’s fantastic. I think there is this misconception about how the police are trying to regulate and enforce, and be this hammer against the entertainment community and that’s not the case at all. The only thing we’re asking for is some guidelines to promote the healthy relationship between the businesses, the public and the buskers and get that vitality, get that energy going in the right direction.”

“I think the buskers are great.”

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