Catherine Davis crooned Okie from Muskogee, guitar tucked under her arm and a sun hat shading her face, as people walked by on the Nanaimo waterfront.
She had coins in her guitar case and a $115 police ticket.
Davis, a busker in the city for more than 40 years, returned to a busking spot near Trollers Fish and Chips late Wednesday, after being given a ticket for trespassing by the Nanaimo RCMP earlier in the week.
There are 51 places in the Harbour City people can busk under Nanaimo’s street entertainers bylaw, including two on Nanaimo Port Authority property, which stretches from the Pacifica residences to 10 Wharf St. On Monday, the day Davis got a ticket, she was at an undesignated spot in the Pioneer Waterfront Plaza.
The port’s land is considered private property, according to Nanaimo RCMP spokesman Gary O’Brien, who said Davis refused to leave at the request of the port authority and so contravened the Trespass Act. She was asked several times, he said.
Davis said it was 27 degrees on Monday, there was no shelter and she’d had enough. Nobody is enforcing the bylaws and there are buskers along the waterfront in undesignated spots “all the time,” said Davis, who moved into an undesignated busking area in the shade by an ice cream shop.
She plans to dispute her trespass ticket.
“I think the ticket is just to scare me. I’m not scared,” said Davis, although she immediately added she is actually terrified.
While Davis claims she was told she’s now banned from all Port Authority property, that’s not the case, according to the Nanaimo RCMP and the Nanaimo Port Authority.
“We certainly have no problem with her busking down here or being on the property,” said Greg Entwistle, marina manager. “It was just that when she refused to move and continued to busk, that’s when it became an issue.”
Entwistle said busking in undesignated spots happens on a regular basis and port staff quite often ask people to move to designated busking areas.
The busking bylaw is enforced by the City of Nanaimo, which currently has 106 licensed street entertainers.