Deputy mayor Mike Duffy said during Monday’s council meeting the city’s nuisance bylaw has missed a major target by not including churches as a place where panhandling is prohibited.
Duffy raised the issue before council passed the first and second reading of a resolution to update the nuisance bylaw to include a definition of livestock.
He said he’d like to see the bylaw further expanded to restrict panhandlers who set up outside of downtown churches on Sunday mornings.
“When these elderly people are going to church and they’re confronted by these guys in the side lot, they’re scared of them so they give them money,” said Duffy. “And they’re staying to get them when they’re coming back out so they get a double whammy.”
Council also discussed the issue last month, and Duffy said he originally believed Monday’s update would be focused on panhandling outside of churches.
Instead, council voted to amend the bylaw to include the definition of livestock.
The definition now includes any domestic fowl such as chickens, geese and ducks as well as horses, donkeys, goats, sheep, foxes and a number of other animals.
The bylaw specifically excludes dogs and cats from the definition of livestock.
As for panhandlers, the current bylaw prohibits aggressive solicitation and making repeated requests after receiving a negative response.
It also says “no person shall solicit on a street sidewalk or other public place within five metres of what is considered a captive audience.”
Those areas could include places with an ATM, traffic lights and bus stops.
However it doesn’t include churches, which Duffy said was one of the major factors for council to add the solicitation section to its nuisance bylaw in May 2016.
Coun. Jason Coady, who chairs the city’s protective and emergency services committee, told The Guardian the committee will be discussing the issue and looking at its options.
Duffy also raised concerns about panhandlers at the stairway coming up from the Confederation Centre of the Arts box office.
“They set up shop there, too, and it scares the elderly people… I understand maybe (the Confederation Centre) is not as much of a captive audience as a church,” said Duffy. “I don’t understand where the stumbling block is to amend the nuisance bylaw under solicitation to include churches.”