PEI

Panhandlers skeptical of crackdown in Charlottetown

Some panhandlers in downtown Charlottetown are skeptical of the city's plan to crack down on them, saying new rules won't keep them off the street.

'They really can't stop a guy from trying to survive,' says panhandler who goes by 'Hobo Joe'

Stacy Coughlin says he will continue to panhandle for survival, even if he's threatened with being ticketed or arrested. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Some panhandlers in downtown Charlottetown are skeptical of the city's plan to crack down on them, saying new rules won't keep them off the street.

At Monday night's council meeting, some councillors expressed concerns about an increase in panhandling and said they've received numerous complaints from residents and tourists.

The current nuisance bylaw doesn't have many rules around the panhandling, something the city plans to change.

The new rules would likely focus on preventing aggressive panhandling, and keeping panhandlers away from bus stops and ATMs.

Stacy Coughlin, who was asking passersby for spare change near the TD Bank downtown said he picked his spot because of its proximity to an ATM.

"I need to be close by a bank or somewhere where people come in and out — only way I can make money," he said.

"I wouldn't care if they crack down, I'll still be doing it. It's the only way I can make a living."

'Hobo Joe,' as he calls himself, said tougher rules won't get him off the street — but better support might. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Further down the street, a panhandler who goes by "Hobo Joe" said a crackdown on aggressive panhandling makes sense to him, but the new rules won't get him off the streets.

"The aggressive panhandlers, I can see cutting them out, the ones that walk up to you and get in your face," he said. "The quiet ones that just sit, don't bother them. Let them live."

"They really can't stop a guy from trying to survive," he said. "If you're going to stop it, help us out. Find a way to help us out. There are resources out there. "

Without a place to live and a permanent address, he said he can't get on social assistance to get a job.

"Give me what I need to start out, and from there, I'll go out and look for work. Shouldn't take me long to clean up, dress up nice, and go to Tim Hortons, McDonalds, wherever, and apply for work," he said.

Council said it is also looking at ways to help those in need, but didn't give specifics of what that would look like.

With files from Steve Bruce

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