Multiple cities in Metro Vancouver are starting to crack down on "aggressive" panhandling with what's now known as the "Safer Streets Bylaw". As part of this new initiative, panhandling fines in Maple Ridge, B.C. may soon come into effect. Maple Ridge is not the first B.C. city to take action against panhandling in the form of bylaws and fines. While it may be a start to a solution, it is also causing some concern.
In July of this year, Salmon Arm, B.C. became the latest municipality in the province to impose a panhandling fine. The bylaw amendment allows officers to issue a $50 fine to anyone caught sitting or laying on city streets and asking for money.
The latest B.C. city to impose a similar law is Maple Ridge, although, the fine has been doubled.
According to CBC News, the council gave the final approval to the “Safer Streets Bylaw” on November 12 which includes a number of rules. Anyone caught breaking the rules will receive a fine of up to $100.
According to CBC News, panhandlers will be fined for blocking the passage of pedestrians. Fines will also be issued to those who ask for money even after a person has said no, “or otherwise harass” someone after requests for money have been denied.
The bylaw bans individuals from panhandling within 10 meters of a bank, ATM, bus stop, daycare, liquor store, or cannabis store. Panhandling is also banned after sunset, Global News reports.
Mayor Mike Morden stated during an October council meeting that outreach officers and non-profit groups will be working with the homeless for a more proactive approach. However, police and bylaw officers may be involved as well.
In a six to one approval vote, the only council member to vote against the bylaw was Kiersten Duncan who stated that it further stigmatizes the population. She also stated that making panhandling more challenging for people wasn’t going to change anything.
Since the announcement, people have been expressing their concerns online.
While some think it is a good idea, many people are following the mindset of Duncan and are concerned about what this will do for people who have no money.
As of now, Maple Ridge, Salon Arm, Quesnel, and Penticton all passed similar bylaws all carrying a different fine.