A new Hope and District Chamber of Commerce campaign wants you know that the provincial Safe Streets Act compels people to not loiter or panhandle, which can lead to an arrest.
The Chamber recently printed a roll of window stickers that shout “No loitering or panhandling near these premises at any time,” with “no” being the biggest word among them.
The project is a collaboration with the District of Hope, which put in half the money required for the $400-500 project, said Chamber secretary Sharlene Harrison-Hinds.
Along with the window stickers, the Chamber will also distribute a copy of the Act which outlines the type of panhandling that could lead to an arrest.
“The purpose of it is twofold,” said Harrison-Hinds. “It’s to empower the owner of the business that they don’t have to get into a discussion, they can hold up the rules … and they know what their rights are.”
The Act does not say that asking for money or items is illegal. Instead, it becomes an offence in some circumstances, such as when the request can be interpreted as threatening or in places where a person is waiting in line to use an ATM or washroom.
“People can ask for money. People can ask for help. But it’s the way it’s being done by a certain core group and their buddies,” said Harrison-Hinds. “When they come up and stick their head in your car, they’re not allowed to do that.”
Harrison-Hinds said she researched what other communities did, and found that having these window stickers represent “the quickest, most effective way to get it done.”
“It may not solve the problem totally, but it’s a start,” said Harrison-Hinds.
Interested parties such as businesses and residences can request a sticker and a copy of the Act from the Chamber by contacting them at firstname.lastname@example.org and they will deliver one to the requester. The package is free and they have about 200 to give away.