Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Didn't panhandling used to be a culinary art?

As long as you have people willing to give you will have people willing to take. Its when you have takers and no willing givers that the problem arises.

I don't know how you reasonably solve the issue of panhandling downtown. I don't know why banks, ATMs or Saskatoon transit should get better protection from panhandlers than other businesses do. However if you make the rule 10 meters from any doorway that would put most panhandlers in the middle of the road.

How do you enforce a panhandling bylaw? If police do not have the resources to come out to a home invasion in a timely manner, how do we expect that they will rush downtown to ticket a panhandler who may or may not be able to pay the fine?

There are two kids of panhandlers. Those that solicit to satisfy a need - either food, alcohol or tobacco - and those who make a living at it. Those who beg out of need will never stop regardless of whatever bylaws exist. On the upside, as soon as they get enough money to satisfy their need, they leave.

As for those who do it for a living, put the same fear of God into them as the rest of us suffer. Have a Revenue Canada guy audit them. Pick a spot along 21st Street, plunk the auditor in a chair and give him/her an abacus. Rev Can has stronger and better enforcement opportunities than does the city. This is no more absurd than than any other solution.

And be sure to define panhandler as being different from a busker or street entertainer, which we do encourage in this city.


  1. A CRA auditor would do no good. When someone gives money to a panhandler they are giving money freely, with no expectation of anything in return. Techically a gift. There is no gift tax in Canada. It would not be considered by the Tax Court as business income, nor would it be employment income. It would not be taxable.

    The flip side of that coin is that a busker likely would be viewed as being paid for a service, and therefore be generating business income.

    What I have never understood is why the flip side of the "transaction" is not also illegal. Make the giving of money to panhandlers a violation of the bylaw with a hefty (min $1000) fine, publicize it and do intermittent enforcement "blitzes" and watch the number of people who give to panhandlers decline significantly.

  2. WTF Fine people who give their money freely to the needed. Oh that will go over great. Once again the "righteous" are trying to solve a problem that man can not control. Just like global warming/climate change, as long as there are people that are willing to give away their hard earned money there will be someone willing to take it. Do we stop all social handouts. No more welfare, no more low income/free housing no more tax breaks, I'm all for that. This city has real problems and businesses keeping people away from their door isn't and shouldn't be one of them.


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