TORONTO: Initial debate on anti-begging bylaw (2)

Graeme Bacque (
Wed, 17 Jun 1998 07:11:10 -0400

June 17, 1998=20

 Panhandlers threaten mass action=20

Proposed curbs spark vow to drive out tourists=20

By Ashante Infantry=20
Toronto Star City Hall Bureau

Anti-poverty activists say they will run tourists out of Toronto if the
city passes a bylaw to crack down on panhandling.=20

The emergency and protective services committee has delayed voting on a
bylaw that would curtail begging on city streets.=20

After a vigorous debate yesterday, councillors asked staff to research the
implications of the bylaw and report to their July meeting.=20

The bylaw, proposed by Councillor Ila Bossons (Midtown) would ban
panhandling at night and within 100 metres of a bus stop, subway station,
bank machine or liquor store.=20

The bylaw, similar to one passed in Vancouver in April, would bar
panhandlers from blocking sidewalks, asking anyone in a car for money or
not taking no for an answer.=20


Social advocates at yesterday's meeting spoke out strongly against the

``I can promise you if such a bylaw is passed, we will organize mass
panhandling and mass squeegeeing in front of opera houses, theatres and
restaurants,'' said Aprille Rhomer of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.=

``We will follow tourists everywhere they go, we will block sidewalks and
we will be aggressive about our demands until people who live in Rosedale
and Forest Hill refuse to come downtown.=20

``We'll shut down every tourist attraction in this city until this matter
is dealt with.''=20

Formerly homeless and presently unemployed, Rhomer said she panhandles
occasionally to supplement the $930 she receives in family benefits every

Politicians, she said, should be spending their time tackling homelessness,
addiction, unemployment and poverty.=20

``The city has to put massive pressure on the provincial government . . .
and put funding back into subsidized housing,'' Rhomer explained.=20

However, Councillor Doug Holyday (Markland Centennial) called begging on
the streets ``an unsafe situation which we allow to exist. We're too

Condo owner Martin Hill told the committee that there is a ``real feeling
out there that people are being intimidated and harassed.''=20

``Shouldn't I have the right to walk on a downtown street and not be
accosted by someone?'' asked Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Don Parkway).=20

But Rhomer said most panhandlers will take no for an answer. ``Mainly
aggression comes from frustration. The frustration comes from hunger,'' she

The committee wants staff to report on the legality of the proposal and
whether police will be able to enforce it.=20

``This bylaw strikes at the fundamental tenets of civil liberty and
democracy,'' said Stephen McCammon of the Canadian Civil Liberties Associ-

The interpretation of the bylaw could curb solicitations by charitable
groups like the Salvation Army, he said.=20

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Electronic Publishing Ltd.=20

Graeme Bacque
(#2226799 on ICQ)
++Question and challenge *all* human 'authority'++