FACE TO FACE: Is Port Moody regulating buskers a good thing for the community?
Back what seems like a lifetime ago, I used to be a street performer.
I was one half of a comedy duo called Instant Relief and, when we weren't performing at comedy clubs, coffee houses or variety shows, we used to take our act to streets of downtown New Westminster or Vancouver.
To the people who saw our act, I deeply apologize.
I realize now we were nothing more than a public nuisance interrupting your busy days and contributing to the ever increasing noise pollution in our cities. And to make matters worse, we just weren't very funny.
That's why I am the first to applaud the city of Port Moody for their its busking regulations.
PoMo's new rules, implemented last week, mean interested buskers will be charged an annual $25 fee and be required to submit an application along with an example of their performance for review by the city's arts and culture committee. Street performances will also be limited to a handful of areas around the community: city parks, the civic complex exterior, Newport Village and Queen Street Plaza.
My colleague opposite seems to have a problem with regulating any street entertainment whatsoever.
Apparently, he's OK with a busker free-for-all at public locales, allowing the riff-raff from all across Metro Vancouver to fill the streets with unappealing sights and sounds.
Yes, the streets are "public" and we're bound by freedom of expression laws but don't I deserve the right to not have to see a crappy musical or clown act on every street corner?
It's a debate that many growing cities must face and it's refreshing to see Port Moody city council be pro-active, rather than reactive, on this issue.
Port Moody has now taken control of who can perform at public locations and have thus enhanced its City of the Arts brand. It has opened the door for quality local performers to get experience - and maybe even earn some money.
At the same time, the city can now explicitly tell the harmonica players of the world to stay away from liquor store entrances and the next generation of Instant Relief-ers (with their rainbow suspenders) to stay away from downtown streets.
This, my friends, is a good thing.
Andy Radia is a Coquitlam resident and political columnist who writes for Yahoo! Canada News and Vancouver View Magazine. He has been politically active in the Tri-Cities, having been involved with election campaigns at all three levels of government, including running for Coquitlam city council in 2005.