Panhandling signage in Chilliwack seen as deterrent

The main goal is reminding motorists that panhandling is contrary to bylaws and very unsafe at that busy corner.

Signage to discourage panhandling is set to go up shortly near one of the busiest intersections in Chilliwack.

New signage is going up to discourage panhandling at Chilliwack’s busiest intersection.

The corner of Luckakuck Way and Vedder Road in particular often sees people with hands out on the highway medians, approaching slow moving vehicles and asking for change.

RCMP enforcement of the city’s Traffic and Highways bylaw hasn’t worked to quell the practice, say city staff, so they are trying a new effort to discourage panhandling at busy street corners.

“It’s a longstanding issue but lately the situation has been exacerbated,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

Enforcement is complaint driven, meaning that RCMP are dispatched to enforce bylaws that prohibit panhandlers if they are slowing down, obstructing or impeding traffic — or risking harm to themselves.

“To date we have not found a good enforcement tool, and have had RCMP go out on regular basis to that corner.”

The signage at this intersection is intended to be a deterrent, as well as educational, Gaetz said. The main goal is reminding motorists that panhandling is contrary to bylaws and very unsafe at that busy corner.

“It says this area is not a good place for panhandling.”

There are other areas around town that might not impede traffic to the same extent or pose a physical danger to the panhandler.

The sign is expected to cost between $50 and $100 at that location.

“We think it will be an effective, low cost strategy,” she said. “But this is just one strategy. We are working hard to provide alternatives, and to help people live productive, happy lives.

“Panhandling is only a short term solution. We will keep investing in efforts to help those who are marginalized.”

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

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