Canyon City Council tables proposed no camping on public property ordinance

Monday night, the Canyon City Commission decided to table a proposed ordinance that would prohibit camping or sleeping on public property, including municipal facilities, overnight (between 6:00 pm and 6:00 am).

"We had folks up here with concerns. They were very civil, very respectful and then at the same time, I think you had a city commission that's looking at it, asking honest questions from a compassionate standpoint," Canyon Mayor Gary Hinders said.

During public comment, several speakers questioned the legality of the ordinance. The speakers also questioned the constitutionality of the ordinance, citing the 8th Amendment.

"I think it also was tabled due to the fact that our legal counsel needs to look into more of what legal precedents are out there," Hinders said.

The proposed ordinance could have been punishable by a maximum fine of $500 per day the offense occurs. In addition, the ordinance stated that the "nuisance" may be abated by removal of tents, bedding, and other personal belongings.

Canyon officials modeled the proposed regulations after the City of Amarillo's controversial no camping ordinance.

Citizens who turned out to protest and speak against the proposed ordinance were happy the City Council's decision.

"It's against human rights. This city's not turning a blind eye. There's many people that support the homeless community and they know you can't charge a person that has nothing.

"If anything you need to empower them with positive encouragement and some resources to obtain things," Brian Moore said.

"I think that the tabling of the issue was definitely a win. I'm encouraged that the City of Canyon and its leaders are taking all of our words into consideration and that they want to take some more time to make the right decision," Chris Seright said.

 Moving forward, Canyon city commissioners will have to decide whether or not to enact any camping on public property legislation. Mayor Hinders noted that decision could be based on if the situation is being taken care of in a compassionate way by the city and citizens of Canyon.

Local homeless activist Kip Billups, who organized the peaceful protest against the ordinance, shared his thoughts about the Canyon City Council's decision.

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