These signs will soon be placed at a number of major intersections in the Cowichan Valley as part of efforts to reduce panhandling and increase public safety. (Submitted photo)

Signage to deter panhandling to be placed at Cowichan busy intersections

Safer working group says it’s a safety issue

Signage will soon be going up at a number of the Cowichan Valley’s major intersections to help discourage panhandling.

The signs that will say “Panhandling on roadways is unlawful and unsafe. Please consider giving to agencies that help those in need” will be placed at the intersections of Trunk Road and the Trans Canada Highway, Coronation Avenue and the TCH, and Cowichan Way and Trunk Road, Duncan’s council decided at its meeting on Jan. 20.

Another sign at the intersection of Drinkwater Road and the TCH, which is in North Cowichan’s jurisdiction, will be considered by that municipality at a later date.

The initiative by the Safer Working Group, a partnerships between local governments in the Valley, the police, social and health agencies and the business community, is intended to help deal with the fact that there has been a significant increase in panhandling from medians in the Valley in last few years.

RELATED STORY: CITY OF QUESNEL TO FINE PANHANDLERS, HOMELESS PEOPLE LYING IN STREETS

The cost of installation of the signs is estimated to be approximately $400.

A report by Paige MacWilliam, the City of Duncan’s director of corporate affairs, said the law prohibits panhandling at intersections, but panhandling at these locations can be lucrative, which makes enforcement difficult for the police.

She said that as soon as one panhandler has been asked to leave, another will often take his or her place.

MacWilliam said in 2018, Inspector Chris Bear, head of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment, advised Duncan’s council that an education campaign to deter people from giving to panhandlers, including installing signage, might be an effective deterrent for panhandling on roadways.

The matter was referred back to staff for further investigation at that time.

But last year, the City of Duncan, the Municipality of North Cowichan and Cowichan Tribes decided to work together, in collaboration with community stakeholders, to implement the Safer Community Plan to address the problems of crime and public disorder along the TCH corridor that goes through the community.

RELATED STORY: CRIME IN CROSSHAIRS IN DUNCAN’S TCH CORRIDOR

The partners established a Safer Working Group to develop plans and initiatives as part of the Safer Community Plan.

MacWilliam said at SWG meetings, panhandling on medians continues to be identified as a major safety concern.

“Panhandlers are risking harm to themselves and drivers by slowing down, obstructing or impeding traffic,” she said.

“The safety of those engaging in panhandling, as well as the drivers who may be distracted by their activities, has caused the SWG to recommend that signage be installed at the main intersections where this is occurring.”

MacWilliam said feedback from eight other B.C. municipalities that have installed similar signage indicates they have been “somewhat effective or very effective” in deterring panhandling at intersections.

“A few municipalities also suggested including an information campaign to educate the public on why they shouldn’t give money to panhandlers due to safety concerns and provide information on how to donate to local agencies,” she said.

“Staff were also made aware of a vehicle accident in Calgary last year that resulted in the death of a panhandler at a busy city intersection.”

RELATED STORY: NEW CORRIDOR SAFETY OFFICE SET TO OPEN IN DUNCAN THIS MONTH ON THE TCH

MacWilliam said the Safer Working Group provides advice to each council in the Valley regarding operational actions in their jurisdictions.

“Cowichan Tribes’ council will also be consulted about installing signage at Cowichan Way and Trunk Road because that intersection boarders both jurisdictions,” she said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

municipal politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No one hurt in Maple Bay Road fire

Fire under investigation

North Cowichan to police popular trails to ensure physical distancing

“You can expect delays accessing Mount Tzouhalem, or even to be turned away.”

Duncan’s Pat Kay copes with Olympic roller-coaster

‘Confusing time’ as Canada pulls out due to COVID-19, followed by IOC postponement

Editorial: It’s never too early to think about water conservation

The weir at Cowichan Lake resumed operations for 2020 on March 18.

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

B.C. health officer says homemade masks may prevent spread of COVID-19 to others

Practising physical distancing, frequent hand washing and resisting touching your face are proven methods

B.C.’s senior home staff measures show results in COVID-19 battle

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order restricts care aides to one facility

Ferry breaks down at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay, several sailings cancelled

B.C. Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay held in dock in Nanaimo due to main engine issue

Independent investigation praises RCMP actions in Vancouver Island suicide attempt

Man hurt in incident that took place near Nanoose Bay in September of 2019

‘A matter of human decency’: Truckers’ union calls on gas stations, rest stops to fully re-open

Teamsters Canada wants feds, provinces to put pressure on facilities to re-open for transport workers

B.C. unveils $3.5M COVID-19 emergency fund for post-secondary students

Money will help students cover living expenses, food, travel, portable computers

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Most Read