If you hear the sounds of music coming from areas of downtown Canmore this summer, it may be a busker entertaining crowds.
Town staff presented minor tweaking of its busking policy as it returns for a second year in 2022.
Buskers, who perform in public places for tips, will still be required to get a business licence that will have them permitted to play at four locations, with extended hours at three of those spots.
Elevation Place plaza, Friendship Park, Civic Centre plaza will allow buskers from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., while Riverside Park will remain from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. time.
“I love busking. I think busking adds vibrancy and coming out of the pandemic, going back to a pedestrian zone, introducing paid parking, I love seeing buskers around,” Coun. Wade Graham said. “I love seeing them on the corners. I know there are a few that people don’t appreciate and that’s art sometimes. I think everything we can do to encourage buskers is as many locations as possible, I would be supportive.”
The 2021 program had three licenses issued after estimating between 20 and 40 would be issued, but municipal enforcement spoke to “a large number of buskers not within the approved areas” and focused on education rather than ticketing.
Eleanor Miclette, the Town’s manager of economic development, said an issue for the low numbers was largely due to the program not being able to launch until June 20 because of provincial COVID-19 public health regulations.
She noted the Town has already started receiving applicants for this year and is expecting to see it grow.
The Town’s business registry bylaw was updated last year to include a policy for buskers to follow and requiring a business licence.
The bylaw permitted busking from May 1 to Oct. 31 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but buskers weren’t allowed to be in the same area for more than two hours.
“I see this as a movement up as opposed to a clamping down,” said Mayor Sean Krausert on the growth of the policy.
The report noted how four residents on Riverside Road expressed disappointment in Riverside Park being selected last year.
A subsequent letter to the 19 Riverside Park property owners was sent out June 20 outlining the program. A follow-up letter was sent on Nov. 24, with only four responses being received and only one had noticed a busker playing.
Coun. Tanya Foubert said she hopes the Town’s policy will continue to add to the vibrancy of recent additions to the downtown area in past years.
“I know COVID is still happening, but I feel we’re in a space where we can start moving forward with things we put on hold or put to the side or we couldn’t actually evaluate properly as a result of the conditions we were in,” she said.
“I think busking is one of them, especially given the progress we made of pedestrianizing Main Street during the pandemic. I think a lot of things are aligning with vibrancy in the downtown and busking really adds to that.”