ROTHENBURGER – More on how we try, and mostly fail, to control panhandling

SUPPOSE YOU’RE AT THE BANK MACHINE and there’s a panhandler sitting or standing there and he asks you for some spare change.

Would you feel comfortable sliding your bank card into the machine and withdrawing some cash? Probably not, especially if the panhandler becomes persistent, and maybe follows you down the sidewalk.

Now suppose a bylaws or police officer approaches this same panhandler, who’s parked back at his spot beside the ATM. With no bylaw restricting panhandling, the conversation might go something like this:

“I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to move along, sir. You’re making people uncomfortable.”

“What if I don’t?”

“Well, nothing. I’m just asking.”

“OK then. I think I’ll stay right here. Have a nice day.”


Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (7714 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.

4 Comments on ROTHENBURGER – More on how we try, and mostly fail, to control panhandling

  1. John Noakes // July 21, 2019 at 7:40 AM // Reply

    If I had a choice between giving money to help someone who is down and out or witness nepotism by a politician, I would gladly give a person something to eat.

  2. “The real solution is housing, healthcare, employment programs, attention to mental health and attacking the root causes of poverty.” Yes these are the solutions but they must embedded in government strategies for the long, long term and not just an election cycle or two.

  3. I took out some cash once, in the middle of winter, from the old BMO atm downtown, while a homeless person slept curled up underneath the machine. How did I fee about this? Well, I wasn’t thinking about my security. I was feeling bad for this guy, who was taking advantage of one of few warm places to sleep, but at the same time, I was thinking about our society and what’s wrong with it. So I gave the guy 20 bucks, mostly to satisfy my own conscience.
    And that’s what really bothers people about homeless people and panhandlers scrounging for change. A bad conscience.

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