Singer Liv Gains fined by police for busking in Cambridge

A 19-year-old Cambridge woman is speaking out after police fined her for busking outside Giant Tiger last week.
Olivia Gains, pictured here at a paid gig, was arrested on Mar. 11 outside Giant Tiger in downtown Cambridge. (Paul Gains)

A 19-year-old woman is speaking out after police fined her and briefly put restraints on her hands after finding her busking outside Giant Tiger in Cambridge last week.

Olivia Gains, who goes by Liv, said she was singing and playing her guitar on Main Street last Wednesday when a police officer approached her and told her to leave. 

"A member of city council told me that as long as the store owners are O.K. with it and there's no complaints up front, then it's fine," Gains said. "So, that spot should have been fine."

In an email, a spokesperson for Giant Tiger said that staff "did not contact the police to complain about a woman busking on the public sidewalk outside of our store."

However, when Gains asked the officer why he was making her leave, she said he told her that someone had complained about her music and that it was against the law to solicit money.

When she refused to give the officer her name, she said he handcuffed her and proceeded to write a ticket for $65.

Gains said she intends to contest the fine in court. 

Complaints against Gains remain unconfirmed

Waterloo Regional Police spokesperson Olaf Heinzel would not discuss the details of the arrest and was unable to confirm that a complaint had been made against Gains. 

However, he did say that a woman was fined in front of the Giant Tiger in downtown Cambridge at 2:24 p.m. on Mar. 11.

In an email, Heinzel said the woman was charged under the Ontario Safe Streets Act for soliciting "a person who is waiting at a taxi stand or a public transit stop."

According to Google Maps, the closest bus stop to the site of the arrest was 100 metres away, on Wellington Street.

Police would not comment further on the incident, said Heinzel.

Councillor concerned

Cambridge Coun. Frank Monteiro, a former police officer, was surprised to hear about the incident.

"There's no bylaw in Cambridge that does not allow busking," he said, adding that it is only around the market that buskers are required to have a permit.

Monteiro also said that there is a difference between soliciting money and busking.

"You're playing. You're not asking for money. People give you gratuity if they want to. If they don't want to, they keep on walking." 

He said the city is working hard to revitalize the downtown and hoped that news of Gains' fine wouldn't discourage other buskers from playing on the streets.