Saskatoon city council has narrowly voted in favour of changes to a bylaw that will make it tougher to ask for money on city streets.
In a 6-5 vote Monday, councillors opted to make it illegal to ask for money from anyone who is using or waiting to use a parking pay station.
In a separate vote with the same outcome, council chose to prohibit panhandling within eight metres of an entrance to a cinema, theatre or performing arts venue.
As well, city administrators have been asked to look at bylaws in other jurisdictions to see if they have buffer zones around businesses that serve and sell alcohol.
A man panhandles in Toronto. (Photo: David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Councillors say the changes will target aggressive panhandlers, not those who sit on the sidewalk asking for change.
Saskatoon already has a 10-metre buffer for bus stops and banks, and an eight-metre off-limits zone for liquor stores.
Administrators had initially proposed restricting panhandling within two metres of a pay station, but Coun. Cynthia Block argued that such a move would be difficult to enforce, especially with the abundance of stations throughout the city.
Coun. Darren Hill said there could be grey areas in the interpretation of the bylaw because a panhandler can now lean against a pay station and ask for money until someone starts using it.
"We're hoping that once people are educated, they will comply."
The bylaw will continue to be enforced by Community Services and police, but is expected to be education based.
Brent Penner, executive director of the Downtown Saskatoon Business Improvement District, said the changes are fairly positive.
"Many of these buffer zones already existed and the changes are to ensure the bylaw stays current,'' he said. "We're hoping that once people are educated, they will comply and the amendments will create a safe environment for everyone.'' (CJWW, CKOM)