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Is aggressive panhandling once again a growing problem in Toronto?

Last Updated Aug 20, 2015 at 5:04 pm EDT

The hand of a panhandler asking for change. The Canadian Press Images/Denis Beaumont

Real monks lead ascetic lives of quiet contemplation. Fake monks are aggressive and want your money.

Police say they’ve charged one of the latter for allegedly breaching orders to stay away from the CN Tower.

The Toronto Star reports that the man, whose name hasn’t been released, was arrested on Aug. 12 for aggressive panhandling near the CN Tower. The conditions of his release included staying away from the area.

On Wednesday, he was spotted once again near the CN Tower and was charged with failing to comply with recognizance and mischief, police said.

Last Saturday, Const. Scott Mills tweeted a warning, and pictures, of a fake monk soliciting money downtown. Police confirmed with The Star that the monk charged near the CN Tower is the same one Const. Mills tweeted about.

Aggressive panhandling is illegal under Toronto’s Safe Streets Act.

It’s defined as panhandling in “a manner that is likely to cause a reasonable person to be concerned for his or her safety or security.”

In December, Mayor John Tory said the Safe Street Act was effective in curbing aggressive panhandling, despite calls from former attorney general Michael Bryant to have it repealed because it’s a “horrible law.”

Tory told the Toronto Sun the act “has worked quite well.”

“(It) has actually reduced the amount of this sort of interference with the lives of people…” the mayor said.

The Act also states that it’s illegal to:

  • solicit a person who is using, waiting to use, or departing from an automated teller machine;
  • solicit a person who is using or waiting to use a pay telephone or a public toilet facility;
  • solicit a person who is waiting at a taxi stand or a public transit stop;
  • solicit a person who is in or on a public transit vehicle;
  • solicit a person who is in the process of getting in, out of, on or off a vehicle or who is in a parking lot; or
  • while on a roadway, solicit a person who is in or on a stopped, standing or parked vehicle.


On social media, some Torontonians expressed their concerns about aggressive panhandling.

Others said deeper societal problems were a more pressing issue.

On the CityNews Facebook page, DC Keeping Graham said: “Aggressive lack of compassion and social safety nets for at risk youth and mentally ill people is the real problem!”