The following is the major part of a letter from resident James Fraser to Kamloops City council on panhandling:
“Solicitation of captive audience prohibited.”
This provision covers panhandling that goes beyond the legal act of asking people for money. It puts “Aggressive” in front of panhandling. People sitting in restaurant patios or using pay parking machines are a captive audience. The Safe Streets Act does not specifically describe these two scenarios, but it is unreasonable to expect our lawmakers to detail all existing and potential scenarios that fit the definition of a captive audience. The definition of a captive audience in the context of being solicited is being in a situation where the person being solicited cannot ignore the solicitation, and has no way to remove themselves from the situation.
I opposed any amendment to the existing bylaw on the grounds that it will put our enforcement officers in harm’s way when dealing with aggressive, high-risk individuals. In addition, there is close to a zero-percent probability that fines levied against these individuals will ever be collected. All complaints regarding aggressive panhandlers should be immediately passed on to the RCMP.
I wrote council on Dec. 18. 2012, stating that aggressive panhandling was an arrestable offence. I suggest the mayor and council engage the RCMP with the objective of enforcing the Safe Streets Act in its current form, or working together to press for amendments that will enable the RCMP to enforce the Act. But as I previously noted, the amendments will have to cover every possible current and future captive audience scenario. The intent of the Act is clear; to allow the RCMP to intervene when panhandling becomes aggressive panhandling.