Busker Owen Burgess was a fixture outside the Royal Bank for years.

New rules for Campbell River street performers

Establishing a policy to control busking has been a long time coming for staff at city hall

Campbell River street entertainers will soon have to get used to some new rules.

Council last week endorsed a new bylaw that will impose guidelines on buskers, including restricting how long they can play in one location and the hours they can perform.

Establishing a policy to control busking has been a long time coming for staff at city hall, who have been toying with the notion for years. Research into a busking bylaw started in 2011 after a survey of downtown businesses in 2007 showed majority support for a busker policy.

Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture said the bylaw is in response to a growing industry.

“The (Community Services Recreation and Culture) Commission believes that with the success of Spirit Square and the revitalization of the downtown core, the city will see an increase in street entertainment and a bylaw to regulate this activity will be needed,” Milnthorp said in a report to council.

The bylaw, which was given first three readings by council last week, restricts street entertainers from performing within two metres of any entrance or exit to a store or business or within five metres from the entrance or exit to a bank, credit union, trust company or automated teller machine.

Street entertainers will also not be allowed to perform before 10 a.m. or after 10 p.m. and must not stay in the same spot for more than two hours each day.

The bylaw further restricts entertainers from using any amplification, with the exception of non-acoustical instruments, and bans buskers from soliciting money, verbally or otherwise, in any other way than having an open container for donations.

Anyone who violates any part of the bylaw will be charged a $50 fine.

Campbell River’s veteran busker, Owen Burgess, said two years ago when council was considering a busking bylaw, that he would welcome a policy.

“If they’re gonna regulate it, it would keep the riff-raff out,” said Burgess, who along with his guitar, has been a fixture in front of the Royal Bank for years. “You gotta be professional, you can’t just be out here making noise and jumping around.”

Busker Blaine Waldbauer was being professional when he was asked to leave his post in front of the library in October, 2011.

Waldbauer, who plays classical violin and old-time fiddle music, was playing his violin near the sidewalk just outside the library and Tidemark Theatre, when a security guard told him there was a busking bylaw in place and Waldbauer needed to leave.

At the time, Milnthorp confirmed to the Mirror that there was no busking bylaw and Waldbauer had come up “against an overzealous security agent.”

Milnthorp said the city had contacted the security company and “directed them not to do that again.”

With a bylaw in place, Milnthorp hopes to put an end to the confusion.

“This bylaw will provide council with a proactive approach to regulating street entertainment,” Milnthorp said, adding that at the same time, the city does not want discourage street performers from setting up shop. “Street entertainment has the potential to contribute to the ambience of a vibrant, revitalized downtown core.”