Panhandlers feel they're being targeted with tickets

Ottawa police are cracking down on aggressive panhandlers, but people asking for money say they feel they're being moved out of downtown.

Ottawa police say they're cracking down on aggressive behaviour

Ottawa's panhandler crackdown

9 years ago
Duration 2:10
Ottawa panhandlers say they're being unfairly targeted by a police crackdown.

Ottawa police are cracking down on aggressive panhandlers downtown, but people asking for money feel they’re being unfairly targeted.

Police have issued hundreds of tickets to panhandlers this summer, saying they’re acting on complaints from pedestrians and businesses.

Panhandlers who spoke to CBC News said they feel police are trying to move them out of sight.

"They should be out there cracking down on the people that are causing strife for other people, murdering people or robbing them," said Lawrence Bustinski.

"We’re just trying to make ends meet for ourselves."

"I could go out and do all the baddest things that everyone wants me to be, but you know what? I don’t do that," said Brian Bastiste.

"I sit here on the street looking like this and losing my dignity."

No intention to pay fines

Ozzie Osman of Vetta Osteria and Bar said panhandlers have bothered his diners.

Ozzie Osman says panhandlers occasionally bother diners at his Bank Street restaurant. (CBC)

"On occasion they pop in and will try to ask our guests for spare change and stuff, we’re quick to come get them out and move them along," he said.

Some people have been given $50 tickets for offences such as panhandling in a bus zone.

All panhandlers who spoke to CBC News said they have no intention of paying such a fine.

Ottawa police were unavailable for comment on this story.