Focus group suggested to discuss buskers

The district needs to change how it views street buskers and vendors, says one Mission councillor.

More commerce in the area would provide more eyes and ears and help “take back the streets,” said Coun. Paul Horn.

Mission’s attitude that these businesses would “obstruct sidewalks is remarkable,” said Horn, who led discussions on forming a focus group to accommodate street vendors and buskers.

“I would like to ask staff to frame an attitude to promote this.”

A staff report suggested the focus group include members of the Downtown Business Association (DBA) and municipal staff, such as the planning, engineering, RCMP and economic development departments. Horn also wanted to include area residents.

The focus group would look at how to provide space for the street vendors or if closing the street for certain times of the year would be practical.

The DBA is not opposed to street vendors and buskers, but doesn’t want competitive products or services offered in the vicinity of current businesses, wrote the DBA executive committee in an e-mail to the district.

The group also wants to ensure all forms of busking and vending are appropriate for the area and the DBA have offered to work with the district to establish guidelines and criteria.

Coun. Mike Scudder was the only councillor opposed to the motion.

“I don’t want to take such a strong stance on this,” he said.

Scudder also rejected the idea of having downtown residents involved in the discussions as there might be elements staff want to discuss in private.

Coun. Jenny Stevens hoped this initiative would be applied throughout the district, if appropriate, and not just First Avenue.