PANHANDLING PROB­LEM

Com­mit­tee of Char­lot­te­town coun­cil look­ing at what op­tions are avail­able

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - dave.ste­wart@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/DveSte­wart BY DAVE STE­WART

Com­mit­tee of Char­lot­te­town coun­cil look­ing at what op­tions are avail­able for ar­eas out­side churches.

The City of Char­lot­te­town may con­sider adding churches to the list of places pan­han­dlers can­not so­licit money.

The topic came up again at Mon­day’s reg­u­lar pub­lic monthly meet­ing of coun­cil.

Coun. Kevin Ram­say re­marked that peo­ple com­ing out of churches are en­coun­ter­ing pan­han­dlers, es­pe­cially those who walk to and from church.

Right now, there is noth­ing in the city’s nui­sance by­law that pre­vents it from hap­pen­ing.

The by­law men­tions ATMs, pay­phones, pub­lic toi­let fa­cil­i­ties, tran­sit stops, taxi stands, so­lic­it­ing money from peo­ple get­ting in and out of a ve­hi­cle or who are parked or so­lic­it­ing money from peo­ple who are on a road­way or a per­son who is in or on a stopped, stand­ing or parked ve­hi­cle.

Coun. Ja­son Coady, chair­man of the pro­tec­tive and emer­gency ser­vices com­mit­tee, said it will come up for dis­cus­sion.

“It will be some­thing I will take back to the com­mit­tee and see if it’s some­thing (where) maybe we can amend our by­law to in­clude ‘for dif­fer­ent ar­eas’, churches be­ing one,’’ Coady said.

Tourists are even speak­ing out on the mat­ter.

In a let­ter to the ed­i­tor, Hon­our G. Nivin of Chev­erie, N.S., said he was shocked at the num­ber of pan­han­dlers seek­ing money from tourists.

“Try­ing to cross Queen Street (in Char­lot­te­town) at the traf­fic light at Kent Street,’’ Nivin writes, “I was pro­voked by one male and I did not re­spond. He then fol­lowed me across the street and tried his luck with an­other ver­bal at­tempt, as I was about to en­ter a phar­macy.’’

Down­town Char­lot­te­town Inc. (DCI) has pressed the city for more fund­ing so it can ex­pand its Nav­i­ga­tor Street Outreach pro­gram.

DCI hired Jen Ni­chol­son to seek out peo­ple on the streets, find out what their needs are and where to lead them to help.

Skills P.E.I. has been fund­ing the project with about $10,000 from DCI, but DCI says more is needed.

Coady said de­spite the fact po­lice de­part­ment is do­ing a good job on the is­sue, it’s more than sim­ply a polic­ing is­sue.

“It’s an un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion, a sen­si­tive sit­u­a­tion and we are try­ing our best to make our city safe, to make it tourist friendly and to work with the pan­han­dlers that are on our side­walks,’’ Coady said.

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