News / Winnipeg

Winnipeg musician asks city to establish busking by-law

Lee Raito penned an open letter to Mayor Brian Bowman after a fellow musician was issued tickets for panhandling.

A busker is seen preforming to a crowd in Vancouver

Metro file

A busker is seen preforming to a crowd in Vancouver

A longtime Winnipeg songwriter and guitarist feels it’s time the city makes it easier for those who want to take their talents to the curb.

Lee Raito says his recent idea to pen an open letter to Mayor Brian Bowman and contact area-councillor Russ Wyatt (Transcona), requesting the city establish a busking by-law, was planted a year earlier when a well-known face on the busking scene was issued tickets for panhandling.

“One ticket is too many for performing,” Raito said on Friday.

He says he’s considered busking as of late, joking that “revenues are light” for someone playing music, but was worried he too may be mistaken for a panhandler, and is unclear on the rules around where to, and where not to, busk.

“Everywhere I’ve gone in this world I’ve enjoyed walking down ByWard Market in Ottawa, or in Edmonton or wherever. I see a musician playing or somebody busking and I stop, and I enjoy it. It’s entertainment,” said Raito.

“Why with us being friendly Manitoba, wouldn’t we be friendly to artists?”

He says he found examples where busking rules are in place for both Edmonton and Kenora, explaining that implementation of similar guidelines would be better for both buskers and the city.

“I think the Winnipeg public would actually probably see more artists on the streets out there willing to present their craft.”

Raito says introducing a busking by-law could be as simple as making it OK for buskers to preform in public spaces, so long as they do not obstruct peoples’ right of ways.

Monday’s committee on protection and community services and parks will hear the request. 

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