Add panhandling no-go zone to downtown parking kiosks

TUESDAY MORNING EDITORIAL — Kamloops City council would do well to act promptly on expanding the no-go zone for panhandlers to parking kiosks in the downtown core.

The winner.

Old meters didn’t draw panhandlers like new kiosks do.

From a discussion at Monday’s meeting of the Coordinated Enforcement Task Force — a group of business representatives, City managers, council members and social agencies that exchanges information on a variety of policing and social issues — the problem of panhandlers hitting up people as they’re paying for parking isn’t a major problem yet.

It is, however, big enough to have drawn complaints to the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association, and it will likely increase rather than go away on its own. The parking kiosks that went into operation a few months ago are a natural attractant to panhandlers.

The old meters that accepted only change were quick and easy to operate. The kiosks are slow, cumbersome and confusing to the point that they create lineups of people waiting to pay for their parking. If the City buys new, easier-to-see screens for them, the lineups will move more quickly, but panhandlers will continue to be drawn to what KCBIA manager Gay Pooler described as a captive audience.

Panhandling is a legal activity in Kamloops. In part, it’s a practical matter — it’s hard to fine people who have no money. Yet, putting a ban on soliciting for handouts at bank machines has been effective by simply ensuring that panhandlers are rousted out of the ATM areas in front of banks.

There are many more parking kiosks — 90 of them, to be exact — than bank machines, and the process is reversed. Instead of withdrawing money from a machine, they’re putting money in (or, as the case may be, credit cards). However, most of the panhandling is concentrated in the 200- and 300-blocks Victoria Street, so foot patrols should be able to indulge in some behaviour modification.

All they need is a bylaw amendment to give them the authority.

About Mel Rothenburger (8243 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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