The rest of the story on City’s plan to license buskers

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
April 15, 2019 - 7:15am Updated: April 15, 2019 - 11:10am
Image Credit: CFJC Today

KAMLOOPS — THERE’S ANOTHER SIDE to the busker story that seems to have gotten lost.

The City of Kamloops’ plan to make street performers buy a licence has been greeted with near-unanimous indignation by the populace. But let’s examine the rationale.

The average Victoria Street busker has little discernible talent. Sure, there are exceptions, but in the main they sit on the sidewalk punishing an old guitar, sometimes a saxophone, sometimes a flute. Sometimes they sing, sometimes not, which may or may not be a blessing.

The City wants to raise the bar, more like the now-annual busking festival in which professional performers prevail. One can imagine the downtown area, maybe even the Tranquille Road corridor, peopled with street entertainers, playing, singing, dancing, miming, doing acrobatics and juggling, swallowing swords or whatever, and shoppers stopping to enjoy their performances and tossing a few coins or dollars into the hat.

That’s a whole different proposition than the guitar bangers currently on our street corners during the summer.

Vancouver charges buskers for a permit. So does Kelowna, which requires an audition.

In Victoria, buskers must wear a badge. Licence fees range from a few dollars and up, and are pretty common wherever you go. I get it.

But does government have to gets its mitts into everything? Do we really have to tell buskers where they can be, how long they can be there, how many of thems can be together at one time? That’s what City Hall wants to do in Kamloops.

Why is it important to label buskers according to their talent? “Legitimate” buskers here, panhandlers there? Whatever happened to free enterprise?

Why does Kamloops have to copy other cities? Does it need the money?

Leave the buskers alone.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at


Editor's Note: This opinion piece reflects the views of its author, and does not necessarily represent the views of CFJC Today or the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group.