Halifax councillors worry panhandlers deter Spring Garden Road shoppers
'When they start chasing them into stores then it gets a little much,' says one councillor
Some Halifax municipal councillors are worried that aggressive panhandlers are keeping shoppers away from Spring Garden Road.
"Some individuals are afraid to even walk there," said Coun. Steve Adams. "When they start chasing them into stores, then it gets a little much."
Deputy Mayor Matt Whitman is also concerned, based on the number of people who have complained to him.
"I hear about it all the time," said Whitman. "It has to be part of the downtown plan."
Campaign in the works
Spring Garden Road is considered one of the busiest streets east of Montreal.
According to the councillor who represents the trendy shopping area, there is a campaign in the works aimed at the people who give panhandlers money.
"They're there because people are giving them money," said Coun. Waye Mason. "So you may want to consider giving money to a charity — that would support transitioning them off the street."
The Spring Garden Road Business Commission plans to kick off the awareness campaign within a few months.
'No interest in criminalizing poverty'
Mayor Mike Savage told council this is a difficult issue to tackle.
"We have to deal with aggressive panhandling but I have no interest in criminalizing poverty," said Savage.
The issue came up Tuesday during a debate on a streetscaping project along Spring Garden Road between Queen and South Park streets. A total of $11 million will be spent on that stretch, mainly to bury power and communication lines.
The work will get underway by 2020.