Don't give money to panhandlers, urges Calgary Downtown Association

With the warm weather bringing more people out walking, the Calgary Downtown Association is asking residents to resist the urge to give money to panhandlers — at least on the street.

'It's best to give the money to charities versus giving it directly to the panhandlers'

A woman and child pass by a Calgary panhandler. The Calgary Downtown Association says donations are best used when given directly to charities. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

With the warm weather bringing more people out walking, the Calgary Downtown Association is asking residents to resist the urge to give money to panhandlers — at least on the street.

"In Calgary there is really no reason why anybody needs to panhandle for food because there are a lot of meals that happen in the downtown core each and every day," association spokesperson Maggie Schofield.  

"Good quality food and nice surroundings."

Barbie Harris says she panhandles everyday and takes in as much as $80 on a good day.

"I spend every dime," said the 50-year-old. "I need cigarettes, I need food, I need beer and I need my other extracurricular activity."

That other extracurricular activity is smoking crack cocaine.

Substance addiction is one of the reasons the Calgary Downtown Association is asking people not to give spare change to panhandlers. 

"It's best to give the money to charities versus giving it directly to the panhandlers," said Schofield. 

"Places like the Drop-In Centre and the Mustard Seed can do so much more work with the money."