Kelowna cops trying to stifle emboldened panhandlers

Panhandlers at intersections are dangerous and illegal says the RCMP.

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

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

Kelowna RCMP Const. Jesse O’Donaghey 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 in the last 18 months. Starting this week, O’Donaghey said the public will see RCMP and city bylaw officers 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 bigger issues to deal with,” he said.

But he said he was pleased and surprised to hear about the new campaign.

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 bylaws 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.

“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.


Just Posted

Work continuing on new Kelowna visitor centre

Crews working through winter on downtown lakeshore site to have building ready for this summer

Pizza delivery car stolen during Kelowna delivery

While delivering a late night pizza, man has car stolen, then runs to recover it

Kelowna’s Serwa named to Olympic team

Kelsey Serwa is one of eight Canadian ski cross athletes headed to PyeongChang

Vernon Search & Rescue find lost snowmobiler

Male, 19, went missing in Hunter’s Range area near Enderby

Kelowna attraction set to re-open after 2017 floods

Scandia’s popular Jungle Golf, downstairs, has been closed since being damaged in Kelowna floods

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Angels at The Mule

Penticton nightclub introduces angel shots for safety

Dryer explosion at Teck Elkview Operations

Locals report hearing loud bang

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Most Read