City staff are now working on a bylaw that will address panhandling in Maple Ridge, only the new set of rules won’t be called that.
Instead, it will be known as the safe streets bylaw.
Council gave the direction to staff at a June 11 closed council meeting. The bylaw is part of the council’s strategic plan for the city.
Coun. Ahmed Yousef said many components of what will become the new bylaw are already on the books.
“We are simply now looking at filling in those gaps, revisiting where we are and relabelling some of things … into a safe streets bylaw,” Yousef added.
One goal is to make a bylaw clear and enforceable instead of vague, and to ensure people can move around the downtown, he said.
Another object of the bylaw will be to allow such officers to be able to get to know street people and what their needs are.
“We’re calling it the safe streets bylaw because panhandling is only one component of safe streets and, of course, panhandling carries some negative connotations that we would rather not conjure in people’s minds,” Yousef said.
“A level of familiarity with who’s-who on our streets will go along way in mitigating a lot of the fears and the sense insecurity on our streets, and at the same time lend to a more friendly exchange,” he added.
Yousef said other cities have similar bylaws.
Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows councils also have started a review of police service in both cities, which are patrolled by Ridge Meadows RCMP.
Penticton has recently banned sitting or lying on certain downtown sidewalks during spring and summer months.
On June 4, Penticton city council changed its Good Neighbour Bylaw and prohibited sitting or lying on some sidewalks from May to Sept. 30. Those in violation of the amendments can face fines up to $100.
The City of Vancouver’s Street and Traffic Bylaw, bans people from blocking sidewalks, harassing people after they’ve initially said no or approaching people in groups of three or more.