Fredericton panhandlers upset downtown business owners

Business owners in downtown Fredericton want something done about the growing number of panhandlers asking people for money outside their stores.

Downtown Fredericton Inc. fears aggressive panhandlers will drive customers away from city centre

Business owners in downtown Fredericton want something done about the growing number of panhandlers asking people for money outside their stores 1:34

Business owners in downtown Fredericton want something done about the growing number of panhandlers asking people for money outside their stores.

Bruce McCormack of Downtown Fredericton Inc. said aggressive panhandlers in the city centre are becoming a problem. (CBC)
Bruce McCormack, the general manager of Downtown Fredericton Inc., said he's been hearing complaints about panhandling and he's starting to worry.

"If you're sitting in your car and you're a senior doing your banking, getting everything ready before you get in the bank, and someone comes up and knocks on your window, that's kind of aggressive and that startles most seniors," McCormack said.

While some panhandlers are polite, McCormack said there are also some who turn angry if their request is denied.

McCormack said that puts a damper on downtown business.

Businesses in downtown Fredericton say there are a growing number of panhandlers. (CBC)
"Somebody went to one of their favourite shops downtown and, you know, was approached by an aggressive panhandler," he said.

"And he said — this customer said — 'I will never come back. I won't bring my family down here.'"

Downtown Fredericton Inc. would like to see a change to the bylaw prohibiting panhandling that would create a distinction between panhandlers and buskers, who perform outside and seek donations.

Fredericton Police Insp. Brian Ford said the city's panhandling bylaw is hard to enforce. Police prefer to send people asking for money to the Department of Social Development.

Insp. Brian Ford of the Fredericton Police Force said the city's panhandling bylaw is hard to enforce. (CBC)
Ford said a seasonal policing team will soon join the officers who regularly patrol downtown on foot.

"In the summer months we use our school resource officers," said Ford.

"We have three of them dedicated to walking the downtown beat."

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