LETTER — Panhandling law must cover ‘captive audiences’

The following is the major part of a letter from resident James Fraser to Kamloops City council on panhandling:

Letter LWith regards to the complaints about panhandlers approaching people struggling with parking machines or sitting in restaurant patios, the Safe Streets Act states:

“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.



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.

2 Comments on LETTER — Panhandling law must cover ‘captive audiences’

  1. Unfortunately, ggressive panhandling works. At some point it crosses over from being panhandling to being mugged.

  2. Pierre Filisetti // March 3, 2015 at 7:39 PM // Reply

    I have witnessed plenty of panhandling, however, never of an aggressive nature.
    On the other hand I find excessively noisy motorcycles and diesel pick-ups racing from street light to street light to be much more bothersome than panhandling.

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