Posters that say "it's okay to say no to panhandlers" have been removed from downtown Sudbury after they caused a stir among community action groups.

The posters also gave tips on how people can avoid confrontations with panhandlers, and encouraged them to donate any money to services rather than individuals asking for spare change.

"People were pretty upset," said David Dubois, a member of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty, also known as S-CAP.

"It was a demographic that really didn't need any more oppression ... I think we need to address the culture of fear and say that these people are not to be feared. It is part of our life and we do need to deal with it on hopefully a more compassionate level."

Intent was not to 'marginalize'

Feedback from groups like S-CAP was heard by the Greater Sudbury Police, one of the parties involved in creating the poster.

Inspector Bob Keetch said the posters were taken down in response to the concern expressed by the community.

"It was never the intention of the Greater Sudbury Police to marginalize or stigmatize these individuals," he said.

The posters encouraged people to donate money to services rather than individuals asking for spare change.

Keetch added police hope to work with groups like S-CAP in the future, however he's unsure what next steps the Sudbury police service will take to address concerns about panhandling in the downtown core.

"We're more than willing to sit and have a dialogue in relation to the role that we play in maintaining community safety in the downtown core," Keetch said.

"But also getting their perspective relative to these types of activities and the corresponding root causes that place individuals into situations where they are asking individuals for money."


The lower portion of the poster, which was cropped out of the top picture, due to online publishing restraints. The posters will be taken down, Sudbury police say. (CBC)