Over the past 4 years I have sat in many a meeting talking about crime. Now a days people like to use the word safety to ensure that there isn’t a negative attached to the hour long bitch fest. Recently the topic of panhandling has come up over and over. Everyone has seen somebody at the intersection of 88th and King George Blvd over the past years. Personally, I choose not to donate to these vulnerable people when I pull up but many do and the frequency of complaints from residents and businesses is on the rise as panhandling is occurring at almost every location in the Newton Town Center.
Obviously, panhandling is linked with a variety of root social issues such as but not limited to poverty, housing and addiction or mental illness and even the minimum wage. Some individuals are very respectful and have amazing stories. Others can be aggressive and cause perception damage to the local area. Young, old, male or female and of any ethnicity have braved the busy intersections as cars whip by trying not to make eye contact.
So the conversation continues around the stakeholder meetings. What can and should we do? Private property versus public property. Is it an RCMP versus Bylaw problem? Do they need more services or income assistance? Can we provide outreach?
Today, and for the past 6 months the weather has been a typical BC climate. I can only imagine if I had to stand outside for more than 15 minutes. If it was my family I like to believe that I would do anything to help. If its my community how can I help?