West Broadway panhandlers causing concerns in Winnipeg
Residents and stores in West Broadway are dealing with an increase in homelessness and panhandlers, and they say it’s affecting their business.
A surge of people living in a lot near Portage Avenue and Maryland Street has caused concern among locals.
John, who slept in the lot Sunday night, said panhandling is an easy way to make money.
“If you annoy someone enough they’ll give you money,” John said.
“If you sit there knocking on their window, they’ll pay you to go away. I guess technically that’s illegal but it doesn’t stop people.”
But the panhandling isn’t just confined to medians.
Drivers heading through the McDonalds’ and Tim Hortons’ drive-throughs are also being asked for spare change or for food on a daily basis.
John said Monday that the area and its restaurants are a popular spot for panhandlers because of the traffic volume.
“It’s because of the roads, I think,” John said. “There’s four major streets here around this block.”
Local shelters and agencies said they’ve noticed the increase in West Broadway as well.
End Homelessness Winnipeg president and CEO Louis Sorin said the area is a no-brainer for those looking for spare change.
“It seems to be quite the congregation area,” Sorin said. “People are kind of captive when they’re in the drive-through.”
“If you’re entrepreneurial in your panhandling that’s one of the places you’d want to go.”
Sorin said he respects people’s decision to give money or food to panhandlers, but he believes there would be a bigger impact if the cash went directly to organizations already working to help Winnipeg’s less fortunate.
Winnipeg police said Monday they had been called to the West Broadway area before, but that a permanent solution goes beyond kicking trespassers off of private property.
A count taken in 2015 found 132 people sleeping in a public space like a bus shelter, tent or car. Another 347 people were in an emergency shelter.
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