Those who have no place to go will soon be unwelcome in parts of downtown Penticton.

Life on the streets – and sidewalks – of downtown Penticton is about to get more uncomfortable for some people.

A suite of legislative changes granted tentative approval Tuesday by council will give police and bylaw officers enhanced powers to crack down on loitering on sidewalks in some high-profile areas. Those caught in violation could be fined $100.

Coun. Jake Kimberly said it’s “unfortunate” the city has to resort to such a measure, but loitering “interferes with the residents who pay for those sidewalks, it interferes with businesses that pay taxes to operate those stores.”

“There’s been significant pressure on our council for a long time… that has been asking for the good of the whole that our downtown area could be more welcome,” added Coun. Judy Sentes in support of the changes.

However, Coun. Campbell Watt expressed concern about how the bylaw amendment might affect those who are downtown to watch a parade, for example, and said he’s “not very comfortable” pushing people out while not giving them a place to go.

Coun. Julius Bloomfield agreed with that sentiment.

“I don’t think we’ll be doing anything except pushing them around the city and upsetting a bunch of other people,” he said.

Bloomfield also argued the change only targets the “symptom” of a lack of affordable housing and ought to be put out for public comment.

“I know there’s a lot of support, but I know there’s a lot of concern as well,” said Bloomfield.

The amendment to the Good Neighbour Bylaw, which was approved by a 5-2 vote with Couns. Bloomfield and Watt opposed, makes it an offence to sit or lie on sidewalks on the 100 through 300 blocks of Ellis Street, 200 through 400 blocks of Martin Street, and the 100 through 700 blocks of Main Street.

The bylaw already places limits on panhandling, so the changes, which will only be in effect May 1 through Sept. 30, are aimed at those who are sleeping, loitering or causing a nuisance in those designated areas, which make up about 17% of the total sidewalk length downtown.

Bylaw services supervisor Tina Siebert told council the approach is meant to be minimally restrictive, and her staff tries to “balance the heart with the hammer” in its dealings with people.

Development services manager Anthony Haddad added that 300 to 400 new residential units have either been completed or are currently under construction in the downtown core, putting additional pressure on downtown spaces.

And the three streets selected for the loitering ban, he explained, were chosen because they’ve either been revitalized or are up-and-coming areas.

Other tentatively approved amendments to the Good Neighbour Bylaw change the definition of street to include vacant storefronts, ban the connection of recreational vehicles to the city sewer system and prohibit the installation of lights that shine onto adjacent properties.

Council also gave tentative approval to a separate bylaw amendment that provides for $100 fines against those who run afoul of the city’s smoking regulations.

Those rules ban smoking in most public places, but specifically within 7.5 metres of a transit stop or doorway and within 30 metres of a school or playground. Vaping, tobacco and cannabis are all covered by the rules.

The amendments will be back before council for final approval at its next meeting June 4.

In other related business Tuesday, councillors unanimously endorsed a new plan that will make it easier for people to borrow downtown public spaces for initiatives deemed by staff to increase vibrancy, such as performances, pop-up stores, recreational opportunities and beautification projects.

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