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A message from Superintendent Al Albano on Panhandling

In the last few months, police have received questions from council members and citizens regarding panhandling at Burlington intersections. Here is the response from Superintendent Al Albano of the Halton Regional Police Service. Further questions on this matter can be directed to Supt. Albano:

“Panhandling is a difficult issue to address and it is definitely becoming more prevalent.  I can’t say with certainty why this is increasing, but an educated guess would be because they are getting money from Burlington residents. 

I spoke to two panhandlers in August of 2017 at Guelph Line and Fairview.  I had first watched these two individuals for a short period of time and they did not go on the road to solicit, just to accept money.  They solicited from the median.  They were also well versed in the law and knew they hadn’t breached it.  They advised me that they work until they make $100.00 each and that usually takes them about an hour and a half.  I was shocked at how fast they made that much money.  I can also see why they would never leave Burlington and why more will come.  I did ask them if I could refer them to any social service agencies and they politely declined.  They said they were better off with the $100.00 each, which paid for a room for the night, food and cigarettes. 

As for enforcement, the City of Burlington does not have a specific by-law to address this, but there is however Provincial legislation (Safe Streets Act).  I have included a link to the statute below.  The problem that police have with this legislation is that the offences are very clearly defined.  For most panhandlers at intersections, they must being performing one of two actions to be charged.  The first is that they must be soliciting in an aggressive manner and the legislation outlines specific examples.  Simply standing at an intersection with a sign does not apply.  The other action is characterized as solicitation of a captive audience.  This includes while on a roadway to solicit persons stopped in a vehicle.  The important phrase here is “while on a roadway”.    Roadway in this statute means the same as the definition in the Highway Traffic Act.  That means that a roadway is the travelled portion of the highway and does not include the shoulder, curb or median.  The only time the panhandlers go onto the road is to collect funds, not solicit.

 I agree that this could potentially be a traffic hazard but other than complaints from citizens that it may cause an accident, we have no evidence (collisions or injuries) to date, which would provide confirmation that these activities are hazardous.”

Safe Streets Act

Superintendent Al Albano
#3 District
Halton Regional Police Service
3800 Constable Henshaw Blvd, Burlington, ON L7M 3Y2
905-825-4747 ext. 2300

al.albano@haltonpolice.ca

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

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38 Comments

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  1. Simple math. $100 a day for 30 days of a month is $3,000. Tax free. I don’t earn that much working. I believe the answer is to stop giving them money?

  2. Last Fall I saw man who was going from customer to customer coming out of a small shopping mall , asking for money so he could catch a bus . Ignoring him, got in my car and watch as he continued to approach people . I found this disturbing , here in Burlington. We seem to be getting people coming in from out of town , creating this unsafe feeling in the local community .

  3. It just goes to show that they prefer this life style no responsibility’s no commitment. They always want the easy way. I’ve offered these guys work and they won’t take it… I have no remorse for the these people. I came to this province with tens of thousands in debt I worked hard to get square and make a business for my family..

    • This would have to start by honest work.. ok the bloody hwy exits and entry ramps here in burlington are disgusting all over the gta!! they are not cleaned on a regular basis and why should municipalities cough it up… maybe we can start there… that’s where they pan handle any way !

    • As has been stated in other comments here – most of these people DON’T want to or REFUSE to work & you want to give them nan guaranteed minimum annual income? Get serious, most of these characters probably head right to the LCBO or Beer store after they get their handouts!

  4. There is alot of work out there. I don’t give any money to them. For what I see. The have nice shoes. Nice cell phones. I’m sorry but people have offered help and they refuse. Stop giving people. … They make more money then the elderly. B.s..

  5. The pan handler at North service road and Brant street climbed out of a nice car with a woman driving, while talking on his cell phone which he then put in his backpack and started asking for money from cars stopped at the light!

  6. It mentions cars in this report but what about pedestrians who use these intersections?

    When I was in Toronto I didn’t like being harassed by people when I was with a baby/child. Some would even go so far as follow me until I have to quickly walk away, with my child.

    I also think about the teens who walk to school as well. They could be vulnerable.

    Pedestrians need to be protected as well in Burlington especially if you want to have Burlington as a more walkable and transit-friendly city.

  7. They are a distraction to some drivers. They hurt my heart especially when they have a dog with them. If they can’t afford a life for themselves then they can’t afford to take care of a dog. The dog should be removed from them.

  8. If you don’t want people to stand on the medians why doesn’t the city or the region put up barriers that will prevent persons from standing there? Maybe making it an offense to hand things out from a car driver while operating on a roadway might also help. Think “revenue tools” folks. Problem solved! Your welcome.

  9. Maybe Burlington should have a by-law enforcing a fine for anyone panhandling? I see more and more of them. This is tarnishing how Burlington is viewed. We need to have a law and enforce it.

  10. It doesn’t bother me in the least. They are very polite, do not hassle you or give you the evil eye. If they want to stand out in the rain and snow, then thats their choice.( and they do). I much rather that behaviour than the squeegee kids in Toronto that are aggressive.

  11. $100.00 for standing at the corner for an hour per day – $700 a week – 2800.00 a month – more than what the seniors receive in OAP. Perhaps we should all stand at the corner for 1 hour per day to supplement our income. I have seen so many pan handlers in my area recently. Could it be they are doing that for drug money.

    • Poverty is a problem -we have poverty in Burlington – we as a city and a community need to do better – moving the problem will not the problem – working to eliminate the poverty will go along way in resolving it – than fining people without options

    • Tim Salisbury there is sooooooooo much help out here in Burlington if people d the searching. There are many food banks, places to get fresh food boxes cheaper than at grocery stores, places to get free clothing and I could go on and on. I am proud to live in such a generous and giving community. I am not saying it is perfect but we have much more support than alot of our neighbouring cities in my humble opinion. Churches throughout city that offer free dinners multiple times a month!

    • I have taught in Oakville and Burlington for over 30 years. I never taught one of our children who said they wanted to grow up to be a panhandler. Those that end up on the street did not choose that life willingly. Happy Easter to all.

  12. Thank you for the clarification. I have noticed an increased presence of late. Other than the obvious reasons are there any indicators as to why the noticeable increase? Perhaps a migration from other municipalities who may have cracked down on panhandling?

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