hl-panhandlers

Moncton is considering a bylaw that would outlaw panhandlers asking for money and from people giving to them. Businesses in downtown Fredericton have also complained about a growing number of panhandlers. (CBC)

Moncton politicians are considering a new bylaw that would not just outlaw panhandlers from asking for money, but also ban people from giving it to them.

City councillors recommended at a meeting earlier this week that city staff look into what other municipalities are doing about panhandlers.

Don MacLellan, the general manager of community safety services for the City of Moncton, said the proposal is only a consideration at the moment.

“Let's have a look at other bylaws across the country, you know has anybody taken that approach, is it an approach that Moncton would want to take,” he said.

Some Moncton residents have complained about what they believe are aggressive tactics from downtown panhandlers.

Keith Wood works downtown and said he has had some bad experiences with people asking him for money.

"We'll go for lunch or go anywhere and we get harassed a lot, like, from the same guy," he said.

"One time I went to the store, buddy asked me, gave him money, came out, he asked me again. They shouldn't be allowed to ask, but you should be able to give."

The proposal was getting mixed reviews from people walking downtown on Tuesday.

Several people said they would like some rules to control aggressive panhandlers but there was a concern the proposal may go too far.

“If I want to give money to somebody that's a different story than getting bugged every time I come to work,” said one man.

Meantime, MacLellan said the city is installing a camera and the RCMP have two officers permanently situated downtown this summer.

Moncton already has a bylaw that prohibits panhandling. It was enacted in 2002.

Moncton isn’t the only city that is being pressured to find a way to limit downtown panhandling.

Downtown Fredericton Inc., a business group in the capital city, said it has been receiving complaints from people about panhandlers. The group’s general manager said aggressive panhandling can put a damper on shopping.

The business group would like to see a bylaw change that would create a distinction between panhandlers and buskers, who perform outside and seek donations.