Kelowna sidewalk sleeping ban target of protest
24 hour ban on sleeping on sidewalks passed Monday
A group in Kelowna held a protest Monday over the city's new 24-hour ban against sitting or sleeping on sidewalks.
Several dozen people with the group Homelessness in Kelowna met in front of city hall, chanting and writing messages to city politicians on the sidewalk with chalk.
Organizer Katrina Plamondon said the ban — which includes a $50 fine for violations — is discriminatory.
"Even if the intention of it isn't to be discriminatory, the action of it is," she told Radio West guest host Josh Pagé. "The people who have spent a night or a day sitting or sleeping on a sidewalk in the cold have not done so by choice."
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Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran has defended the ban, saying it's about keeping sidewalks clear.
In his view the city isn't targeting homeless people. He says enforcement is complaints-based and he acknowledges fines may not be collectable from people sleeping on sidewalks.
Plamondon said if the mayor wants to keep the sidewalks clear, he should focus on connecting homeless people with services and housing.
She's doubtful the bylaw, as it exists, will be successful, but as a former outreach nurse, she fears it will further disconnect homeless people with needed services like health care.
With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West
To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: Kelowna anti-sidewalk sleeping ban target of protest