Cops, Kelowna bylaw officers to crackdown on intersection panhandlers

Police say in addition to the practice being dangerous and a distraction to motorists, it is also illegal.

The Kelowna RCMP’s municipal traffic section and Kelowna City bylaw enforcement officers are teaming to to crack down on what they is call “aggressive roadside panhandling.”

The police plan to conduct a co-ordinated enforcement campaign to address issue, particularly panhandlers who stand on road medians at intersections and ask driver waiting in traffic at stop lights for money.

Const. Jesse O’Donaghey of the the Kelowna RCMP said the practice is not only dangerous, it is also illegal and is a distraction to motorists. Intersection panhandling flared up along the Highway 97 corridor through in the last 18 months.

Starting this week, O’Donaghey said  the public will see RCMP and city bylaw officers stepping up enforcement, targeting panhandlers who stand at intersections.

O’Donaghey said during their interactions with panhandlers—although typically short—motorists often create unnecessary delays to normal traffic flows, which can be frustrating to other motorists.

“Oftentimes motorists feel intimidated by these individuals and feel pressured into donating for fear of damage to their vehicles,  he said. Local officials ask the public not to feel compelled to donate to panhandlers, and say donations would be better given to support social service agencies throughout the community.

The issue of intersection panhandling was raised last year during a Kelowna city council meeting by Coun. Luke Stack. But he said the response he received at the time was tepid.

“I was told the police had being issues to deal with,” he said.

But he said he was pleased to hear about the new camapign

So he was surprised by this week’s announcement of a crackdown by police and city bylaw officers.

Stack said while he has noticed the practice growing around the city, especially at busy intersections like Cooper Road and the Highway 97 and Dilworth Drive and Highway 97, he has not found the panhandlers to be aggressive.

“It’s just dangerous,” said Stack.

While the city does has a bylaw making it illegal to panhandle close to banks and bank machines and its bylaw officers can also stop people from blocking sidewalks and road ways, there are not specific city laws about intersection panhandling. There are, however, provincial laws.

O’Donaghey said the multiple enforcement options are available through the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act and the Safe Streets Act.  The Motor Vehicle Act prohibits soliciting vehicles roadside, as well as soliciting in an aggressive manner and carries a minimum fine amount of $109. The Safe Streets Act prohibits soliciting a person in a vehicle, and carries a fine of $86.

But, what city officials say has been an increase in the number of aggressive panhandlers on city streets in the last 18 months prompted the police and its bylaw department to act.

“I think there is a general concern about this,” said city manager Ron Mattiussi, adding he has noticed more panhandlers around city hall of late and they are more aggressive in asking for money.

He said in light of that, the city has increased security patrols at the nearby Queensway bus loop.

The police are reminding motorists to maintain their attention when driving and stopped at intersections, and asking them to report any aggressive panhandling behaviour to police, and the city’s bylaws department.


Just Posted

Severe thunderstorm watch issued for the Okanagan

Possible rainfall rates of up to 25 milimetres in one hour.

STEM summer camps focus on math, science learning

Programs offered at UBCO campus encourage hands-on fun

Futures court stars make stop in Kelowna

Kelowna Futures Tennis Tournament goes June 25 to July 1 at Parkinson Rec Centre courts

Blasting warning for West Kelowna

West Kelowna permit issued for blasting to start this week

Glenrosa residents asked to secure garbage

WildSafeB.C. issues warning about bears

VIDEO: Vernon-area students read for rank

RCMP visited JW Inglis on Wednesday as part of the Read with Me and the RCMP program.

Pippins halt Falcons’ winning streak at 3

YAKIMA, WA. – The Kelowna Falcons had their three-game West Coast League… Continue reading

FIFA World Cup weekly roundup

Host nation Russia remains unbeaten in Group A, tied with Uruguay

Star Gazing: Using a large telescope

Ken Tapping, astronomer with the National Research Council’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory

Trudeau says he can’t imagine Trump damaging U.S. by imposing auto tariffs

New tariffs on Canadian autos entering the U.S. would amount to a self-inflicted wound on the U.S. economy

Temperature records broken across B.C., again

The first heat wave of the season went out with a bang across the province

Canada’s first national accessibility law tabled in Ottawa

The introduction of the Accessible Canada Act marked a key step towards greater inclusion

Police chief calls for mass casualty plan in Saskatchewan after Broncos crash

Former Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill said the office was tasked with creating such a plan 13 years ago but none exists

U.S. schools mum on ties to doc in sex abuse inquiry

A now-dead doctor accused of sexual misconduct acted as a team physician at other universities

Most Read