Did you know?

Drafting bylaws to address panhandling requires careful attention. Here are some considerations:

Prescribe and not prohibit

Bylaws should reasonably prescribe and not prohibit panhandling. Bylaws that prescribe the time, place and manner of panhandling have a greater likelihood of surviving legal challenges than bylaws prohibiting all forms of panhandling. For example, bylaws may prohibit panhandling between specified hours (e.g. 8:00 pm to 8:00 am) and in specified locations (public transit stops, banks, liquor stores, busy walkways or roadways, etc.). Also, bylaws can prohibit persistent, intimidating, obstructive or threatening conduct.

Legal challenges

Panhandling bylaws are subject to the same principles used to challenge other municipal laws. For example, they may be challenged on the basis that they are beyond the jurisdiction of a city’s enabling legislation (in contravention of the Constitution Act, 1867), or contrary to laws passed by a senior level of government. Bylaws may also be challenged using common law arguments such as breach of fairness, bad faith, vagueness or uncertainty. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms may be used to challenge a bylaw that infringes on constitutionally protected rights and freedoms.