Brampton council is moving ahead with plans to licence clowns and other children’s entertainers despite objections from city staff and those working in the industry.
Councillors voted on Wednesday in favour of Coun. Paul Pelleschi’s motion, which would require criminal background checks for clowns, Santa Clauses, magicians and the like. The entertainers would also have to pay a nominal fee.
Working clowns were on hand at city hall to speak out against the idea, which they say would be both impossible to enforce and expensive for travelling entertainers if other municipalities follow suit.
City staff has agreed the system would be ineffective and hard to define and implement.
“It’s not a bad idea, but I think it should be done provincially,” Bev Parrish, an entertainer known as Petunia the Clown, told CityNews.ca.
“Nobody wants to be looked at as not caring about children.”
Parrish — who has been a clown for 19 years and works from Shelburne to Hamilton and beyond — said a centralized system in Ontario with a single background check would be much easier to track.
She also said the cost of the licences would make it that much more difficult to operate. As it is, she spent $10,000 in advertising last year — on top of paying for costumes, balloons and other supplies — and faces growing competition from indoor playgrounds and princess and pirate parties.
The proposal first came from Brampton woman Linda Beaudoin. When she later became a children’s entertainer, she was surprised she was never asked about her background.
In December 2010, a Napanee, Ont., clown named Randy Miller was arrested and charged for his role in a child pornography ring.
That same year, Daniel Gyselinck — who played Santa Claus in Barrie’s annual parade — was sentenced to more than three years in jail after he was caught with child pornography.
Coun. Gael Miles, an outspoken supporter of the motion, could not be reached for comment.
With files from The Canadian Press