Use kindness meters

Vernon residents are being reminded to use kindness meters in the downtown core rather than hand out change to panhandlers.

The orange painted meters were installed last year in order to clamp down on begging, after downtown businesses complained panhandlers were putting off customers.

Money that is put in the meters goes directly to service providers that feed and house the homeless community in Vernon.

“While panhandling on public property is a legal activity and protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canada, the Province of B.C.’s Safe Streets Act and the City of Vernon’s City’s Good Neighbour Bylaw have restricted certain panhandling activities,” said Clint Kanester, Manager of Protective Services.

The bylaw rules include:

Panhandling to vehicles on a roadway is prohibited due to traffic safety concerns, while panhandling on public areas such as city-owned sidewalks is allowable, there are restrictions around panhandling at certain locations (such as near banks, bus stops or liquour stores), continuing to panhandle to an individual after that person has said or indicated no, panhandling after dark, panhandling from seated position on a sidewalk or aggressively panhandling, such as following, touching and/or continued requests for money.

“There are tips that citizens who encounter a panhandler may wish to observe,” said Kanester.

“Briefly acknowledge the panhandler. If asked for money, simply say, 'Sorry', move purposefully towards your destination, do not engage or allow yourself to be engaged, don’t fumble for change or make excuses.”

The City has collected $2,427.51 on behalf of social agencies since the implementation of the kindness meter program in June 2016. 

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