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Council delays decision on safe streets bylaw

Tent city for the homeless at the foot of Fifth Avenue in Prince George.

City council has deferred voting on the final approval of a Safe Streets Bylaw until August 30.

The controversial bylaw, is designed to address behaviour on streets and sidewalks such as aggressive panhandling, loitering, littering, sidewalk obstruction, graffiti, open drug use, needle disposal, as well as the creation of structures, temporary shelters, and campfires on streets and sidewalks. It includes issuing fines to those not in compliance. It has met with stiff opposition, including protests outside City Hall two weeks ago.

The bylaw passed first three readings at the June 14 council meeting by a 5-3 vote, and was due for final reading Monday. This bylaw will now be considered by council for final reading on August 30, providing some time for additional consultation.

The postponement was proposed by Coun. Cori Ramsay who initially wanted to delay a final decision until October 4. However, Coun. Garth Frizzell put forward an amendment to Ramsay’s motion, moving decision day to August 30. 

Council voted 6-3 in favour of postponing the final reading of the bylaw.

“I think we need to spend more time taking it to our community partners,” Ramsay said. “I feel… strongly that policing our way out of this is not a solution.”

Mayor Lyn Hall agreed that the postponement would give council more time to meet with groups and stakeholders.

“Other cities have got safe streets bylaws where they’ve had to make changes, because it didn’t work,” Hall said. “I want a Safe Streets Bylaw. I understand the necessity to do this, but we need to do it right.”

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