Could an updated nuisance bylaw in Prince George discourage panhandling or loitering?

Recently, Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson updated its community nuisance bylaw where a fine of $500 could be dished out if anyone is caught observing similar behaviors.

Mayor Lyn Hall was asked if similar legislation is being considered in PG, but as of right now, that’s not the case.

“We haven’t considered that type of nuisance bylaw quite yet. As you know, they have a similar bylaw in Penticton that was enacted a few months ago but we haven’t given that type of bylaw any type of consideration.”

“We’ll take a look at it, but I am going to have a conversation about it with Mayor Simpson about how he sees that rolling out and whether or not it has an impact.”

The city’s current bylaw centres around troubled properties causing issues, most notably the Connaught Motor Inn, which has since been improved and renamed the North Star Inn and Suites under new owners.

Hall believes the current legislation seems to be working.

“It’s helped us out immensely and we’re very careful about how we use it and that’s what the nuisance bylaw is designed for.”

Drug use and homelessness continue to plague Prince George’s downtown core and Hall states city council and the RCMP still look at solutions to tackle the issue.

“We have increased our police patrols, we’ve increased the bylaw services mandate and we have done a tremendous amount in dealing with the problem. One of the practices that I have done for a very long time is to be in contact with the mayor’s across the north and the province to see what they are doing in their community and whether that would work here is something we could look at.”

On Wednesday, the city offered a sneak peak into a proposed affordable housing project slated for 1st Avenue where the model is a new one for Northern Health, BC Housing, and Prince George offering both health care and housing in the same facility.

While the 100-unit project is still in its infancy stages and not a sure thing yet, Hall is excited about the possibilities it would bring.

“I know it is a couple of years away, we think it is a big move for the city and I think we are really setting the tone provincially for having this integrated health model.”

A Community Info Session on the Downtown Health & Housing Proposal was held last night at the Civic Centre.

with files from Cole Kelly, staff