Members of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty continue to look for ways to address social issues in the downtown core.

Wednesday the group held a "Panhandling for Panhandlers" event in downtown Sudbury — a demonstration that was originally organized to protest a controversial poster campaign created by the Greater Sudbury Police, Crime Stoppers and the Downtown Sudbury Business Improvement Area.

The posters were a response to complaints from shoppers and businesses, who were growing concerned about people asking for handouts downtown. The posters asked people to donate to organizations instead of individuals looking for change, and offered advice about dealing with panhandlers.

But backlash from anti-poverty organizations was swift and the posters were taken down.


Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty member Laurie McGauley said she is glad posters that discourage donating to panhandlers in Sudbury's downtown have been removed. (Hilary Duff/CBC)

Raising awareness

Laurie McGauley was one of about two dozen people who attended the event at the corner of Elm and Durham Streets in downtown Sudbury.

"We're actually here to celebrate because the posters have now been taken down because of the feedback they've gotten from the entire community," she said.

Another group member, Anna Harbulik, said the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP) event was meant to raise money and awareness.

She pointed to "all of the no-loitering signs that have been put up in the places where the poor and homeless people hang out …You can't address the issues of poverty and homelessness by pushing people out of one area."

Harbulik said the panhandling posters highlighted an alarming trend.

"We see this as just one specific tactic in sort of a larger process of social cleansing that's been going on downtown," she said.

Harbulik said S-CAP is holding an anti-poverty town hall meeting next Wednesday where it will discuss panhandling downtown, as well as other social problems in the city.