The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) and the City of Abbotsford are trying to discourage panhandling throughout the community by having more than 20 signs posted at busy intersections.
The signs advise motorists that panhandling on roadways is hazardous and unlawful and suggest that citizens donate to local agencies that help those in need instead of giving money directly to panhandlers.
Sgt. Kevin Murray of the APD’s street outreach response team said individuals who are connected to services have “better health outcomes” than those who aren’t.
“Citizens who provide street-side support may think they are helping, when in reality it dissuades the panhandler from seeking the assistance of professionals trained in the areas of homelessness, mental health and addiction,” he said.
“Street-side donations can ultimately be counter-productive to the health and well-being of the person panhandling.”
Mayor Henry Braun said Abbotsford continues to collaborate with local partners to address the specific needs of vulnerable groups.
“Supporting those in need within our community is a joint effort. Residents, all levels of government, non-profit organizations, and businesses all need to come together,” he said.
“We live in a generous community and there are many excellent local organizations we can support which work diligently to address the specific needs of those experiencing homelessness.”
Among the local agencies that citizens can support are Archway Abbotsford Food Bank, Cyrus Centre, The Warm Zone, the Salvation Army, Phoenix Society, 5 & 2 Ministries, and Mennonite Central Committee.
Signs have been installed at the following intersections (some have more than one sign):
• Sumas Way at McConnell Road, Barrons Way, Marshall Road and South Fraser Way
• South Fraser Way at Clearbrook Road, Gladwin Road, McCallum Road and Marshall Road
• Mt. Lehman Road at Fraser Highway and Cardinal Avenue
• Highway 11 at Sumas Way and McCallum Road