N E W S R E L E A S E For Immediate Release
OTTAWA- A group of squeegee kids have organized a protest of the so called, “Safe Streets Act” and for Saturday June 25, at 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. Their aim is to take by the streets for the purpose of making a living.
A group of squeegee kids will be there to squeegee cars and pass out information about the cities complete ban on all street enterprises. Panhandling as well as the distribution of arts, crafts, street newspapers and busking are not permitted on Ottawa streets with or without a business license. A homeless person will be charged and jailed for distributing a street paper for donations, or if they distribute their arts and crafts or play music for donations.
The city is using both the temporary bylaw “Designated Spaces Program” and the “Safe Streets Act” to enforce this extensive ban on street economic activity.
The homeless are the hardest hit because they do not have any options. Massive cuts to social programs and increased aggressive policing towards street involved persons have created a tremendous crisis on Ottawa streets. Most are not job ready and the flexibility of street enterprises is the only feasible way for them to make a living
The Mayors office and the city legal department with the support of Councillor Diane Holmes is trying to make this temporary “Designated Spaces Program” bylaw permanent by the end of August this year. The current temporary bylaw involved with the “Designated Spaces Program” only allows hot dog stands and chip wagons in the down town core. No other street vending is aloud with or without a license. The permanent version will be extended to include only one more enterprise and that is ice-cream bicycle and special events put on by the Business Associations will also be permitted. A staff report was submitted to the Emergency Protection Committee on June 9, 2005 entitled Vending On Highways (highways defined in the report as all streets and all sidewalks in Ottawa).
Panhandler Proshanto Smith says, “I am being treated like a criminal for trying to make a living on the street the best way I can. I have been harassed by police for squeegee, panhandling and distributing the Dominion newspaper for donations.”
Jane Scharf says, “we are being forced to break the law to make a living”. The crime in my view is the cruel exclusion of these brothers and sisters on the street. They have a right to exist and share in the wealth of this country.
I challenge the policy makers to go back to the drawing board and develop fair plans for the management of Ottawa Street life.”