Nelson Chamber of Commerce asks for smoking and panhandling bylaws

An anti- smoking bylaw is expected to be debated by council in June.

The Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce wants the city to implement a no smoking bylaw and re-visit the panhandling bylaw that council shelved last year.

Chamber board member Cal Renwick presented a letter outlining their requests to council on Monday.

The letter is a follow-up to the contents of a letter published as a full page ad in the Nelson Star on May 5, signed by 52 downtown businesses.

“The underlying concerns and frustrations expressed by the 52 businesses have been brewing for a while,” the letter states. “This has clearly been a galvanizing issue for businesses in the heart of our community.”

The letter asks for a bylaw that would prohibit smoking on city property, which includes sidewalks.

And it requests a “made in Nelson” panhandling bylaw that “would include sitting in front of a single business, no sitting within a certain distance of a doorway, no panhandling after sunset, no panhandling from vehicles, and no panhandling near financial institutions.”

The letter also expresses satisfaction at the recent increased police presence on the street.

The Chamber is “not indifferent to the plight of marginalized people,” the letter states. “We support efforts to assist them. In fact local businesses contribute regularly to food banks and homeless campaigns, and tens of thousands of dollars are donated to local nonprofit and charitable organizations annually.”

The letter also recommends that a working group of city councillors and business people be formed to attend to issues related to the renovation of the lower end of Hall St. as well as the Railtown project.

Monday’s meeting was a Committee of the Whole, at which council hears presentations but does not make decisions. The smoking bylaw is expected to come to a regular meeting of council in the near future.