RNC says it has not received traffic obstruction complaints
St. John's Councillor Bruce Tilley. — File photo
A St. John’s city councillor says people who panhandle at busy intersections should find a safer place to ask for spare change.
Coun. Bruce Tilley says the issue is getting more out of hand every year.
“I had a call from a constituent about his mother, who was driving up, and she was scared because she was stopped right at the place that (the male panhandler) was,” he said.
Panhandlers singled out by Tilley stand at the medians of intersections, like the one where Columbus Drive meets Topsail Road, and wait for a traffic light to turn red before passing between vehicles looking for spare change.
“Sometimes they come off the median when there’s not much traffic and you’re stopped and they’ll come right to the window. That’s not very nice. In another situation, you’ve got a lot of people driving along with small kids, babies in their seats in the back, and you know, it’s no place to be collecting money.”
Tilley said panhandlers are a safety hazard for motorists, noting they are sometimes accompanied by a dog.
“They’re there. You don’t know if they’re going to jump off the median. You don’t know if the dog is going to jump off the median. And they’re trying to collect money all the time. It’s an inappropriate place.”
A spokeswoman for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary told The Telegram it has “not received any complaints of obstruction of the free flow of traffic or harassing or threatening individuals.”
She said police will investigate complaints of that nature if they are made.
The legality of hanging out on the median of an intersection is something Tilley is not entirely sure of, and he plans to bring the matter to the attention of the city’s police and traffic committee later this month.
“If it gets any worse, we’ll have to do something with it, I’d say.”
However, he notes that politicians are not allowed to have signs placed at such intersections during election campaigns.
Tilley says panhandlers situated in those areas amount to a similar distraction.
“It’s the same situation. If you can’t put a sign down and you’ve got a person up there with a big dog, what if the dog jumps off?”