City contemplates boost for buskers

Changes to busking laws coming

Clowns Jim Ricks

Clowns Jim Ricks

With a red clown nose and matching red plastic glasses, Jim Ricks pulls in a passing pedestrian.

“I’m so glad you’re here!”

“We were waiting!” adds clowning partner Scott Smith banjolele in hand. “You’re just on time!”

Before there’s a moment to back away, the songs and silliness begin.

“Ain’t she sweet,” the pair sing to an embarrassed, but smiling, woman on Government Street.

The two belong to the five-member Sunshine Clown Society, who do clown work as therapy in hospitals. Smith and Ricks, however, are keen to do more clowning as buskers.

“It’s edgy,” said Ricks. “There’s always surprises.”

Ricks welcomes any changes that Victoria city council is contemplating that will help buskers earn a living.

Among them is an amendment to the bylaw that would enable buskers to sell products related to their performance, such as CDs or postcards.

“We’re obviously going to need parametres for what kind of products are sold,” said Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe.

Other proposed amendments include: allowing members of a busking group to get some kind of group-licence rate; and, allowing buskers to have a city-issued sign soliciting donations and explaining performers are not paid by the city.

Ricks isn’t so sure the signs are needed.

“I think people know (how buskers are paid),” he said. “Personally, we wouldn’t do that.”

Fiddler Jordan Vermes already has a sign that reads “Busking my way to university,” tucked into his violin case.

The 18 year old would be happy to sell CDs, if he had one. His beef, however, is with another proposal to  ensure buskers don’t stay put in one place.

Proposed for debate is a two-hour limit for buskers, after which time they can not return to the same spot until the next day.

Some businesses have complained they hear the same repertoire of music over and over, Thornton-Joe explained.

The bylaw, if implemented, threatens to leave prime spots empty, said Vermes.

“For the people who are making a good living, don’t stop them because then there won’t be any music on the street,” he said.

Mark Harrison also sees no need for the regulation.

As manager of Rogers’ Soda Shoppe, across from busker Darth Fiddler’s favourite haunt, he said he’s never had any complaints from customers.

“My feelings are very positive toward the buskers,” Harrison said. “I’ve found them to be a benefit to the business.”

In his experience, they’ve also been receptive to any requests or complaints.

Just Posted

BC Housing has brought in sanitation trailers to the former Mount Tolmie Hospital site so its current residents can access clean water, showers, sinks and toilets after a collapsed sewer pipe impacted water service to the building. (Google Streetview)
Mount Tolmie Hospital homelessness shelter using sanitation trailers after pipe collapse

Travelodge shelter residents faced intermittent hot water supply in late May, early June

COVID-19 exposures have been reported at Colquitz Middle School and Tillicum Elementary School, both on June 14. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
Two Saanich schools report COVID-19 exposures

Exposures reported at Colquitz Middle School and Tillicum Elementary School

Staff will be reviewing public feedback from second-stage designs for cycling infrastructure in James Bay, part of the City of Victoria’s 32-kilometre network. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria sends James Bay bike lanes choice to next phase

Design modifications based on community input to be delivered to council this summer

Sooke RCMP seized cocaine, ketamine, MDMA, prescription pills, $6,000 cash, a machete and pepper spray during a bust June 15. (Courtesy of Sooke RCMP)
Sooke RCMP seize drugs, machete, pepper spray

Man arrested near Evergreen Centre following drug deal

Gerry Vowles (left), Michael Cook, and Dave Sinclair were awarded “Dominion Command Presidential Citations” June 17 in Cloverdale. The rare awards were given out for “exemplary service to the Legion.” (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Three B.C. legionnaires awarded ‘Presidential Citations’

Ceremony took place in Cloverdale June 17

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Syringes prepared with Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine are seen at a vaccination site in Long Beach, Calif., Friday, March 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Vaccine first doses now available for walk-ins on Vancouver Island

People aged 18+ can walk in for their first COVID-19 vaccine

Photos displayed at a vigil for former Nanaimo outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found June 3 and whose death RCMP are investigating as a homicide. (News Bulletin photo)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

Most Read