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Penticton says only ‘aggressive or repeat and brazen’ sidewalk sitters will be ticketed

Dozens of people showed up to a protest on May 25 to voice opposition to Penticton's proposed bylaw change that would ban sitting or lying on sidewalks during the summer months. Jules Knox / Global News

Controversial changes to a Penticton bylaw come into effect on Wednesday that make it illegal to sit or lie on some public sidewalks in the city’s downtown core during tourism season.

The changes to the city’s Good Neighbour Bylaw were officially adopted by Penticton city council on Tuesday evening.

READ MORE: Dozens protest Penticton’s plan to ban sitting on downtown sidewalks

Those who violate the ban could be handed a $100 fine.

However, the city said bylaw officers will have discretion on how and when they enforce the new rules and “only aggressive or repeat and brazen bylaw offenders will be ticketed.”

The city says it will inform people of the new rules and ask them to move before taking any punitive action.

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“The progressive approach is effective because it gives individuals the opportunity to comply once an officer has explained the bylaw to them,” Anthony Haddad, the city’s director of development services, said in an email to Global News.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Penticton endorses plan to ban sitting on downtown sidewalks during summer months

The measure is in an attempt to curb what the city describes as social nuisances in the downtown core — such as panhandling, loitering and inappropriate behavior.

“Keeping people moving is important to deal with any obstructions of the sidewalks,” said Haddad.

READ MORE: Too noisy for busking: The town of Comox bans the accordion

Business owners, as well as the Downtown Penticton Association, have expressed concern about the impact such activities have on their bottom line.

However, homeless advocates say the bylaw amendment is discriminatory and targets only one group of people.

Protesters opposed to the bylaw changes gathered outside of Penticton’s city hall on Tuesday evening, as city council prepared to officially adopt the bylaw change.

The bans on sitting or laying down on some downtown sidewalks are in effect between May and September.

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