June 13, 2016 - 6:30 PM
VERNON - The City of Vernon will try to reduce panhandling issues with a combination of kindness, education and enforcement.
A new strategy was unveiled today, June 13, to help address panhandling concerns in the city. The plan includes signs at medians where illegal and unsafe panhandling is occurring, targeted enforcement by bylaw and the RCMP, educational resources and the installation of ‘kindness meters’ in the downtown core.
“It’s very good for starting to address this issue,” Coun. Catherine Lord said.
Coun. Scott Anderson echoed that sentiment, stating the plan is a "happy medium." He pointed out local agencies have done a great job addressing the root causes behind the issue — such as mental health and addictions — within the constraints of limited federal funding.
The city created the plan in response to rising concerns from businesses and the general public about panhandling activity.
The kindness meters will be decorated to distinguish them from regular meters and funds will go to local non-profit organizations. The point of the meters is to encourage people from giving directly to panhandlers, and instead to the organizations who assist them.
The educational component of the plan will see a ‘Dealing with panhandlers’ program offered at the Community Safety Office. The plan also calls for the creation of educational posters, and a brochure informing businesses of what can legally be done to address panhandling concerns.
“I really do feel this is a humanistic approach to dealing with the issue,” Coun. Juliette Cunningham said.
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