Dawson City targets aggressive panhandling

Mayor and council in Dawson City are looking at revamping an old loitering bylaw to address panhandling.

"We just don't want a repeat of last year," said Dawson City mayor Wayne Potoroka.

"There were a few incidents where people were feeling a little uncomfortable with some of the activity and groups on the boardwalk."

He said the bylaw is meant to give RCMP the "social licence" to deal with aggressive panhandlers. 

Jackie Olson, executive director of the Klondike Visitors Association, said Dawson City isn't against people panhandling in a positive way.

"It's nice to see people out playing their instruments and it's a nice way to experience Dawson but we have been getting the odd characters that come in and ... it's instantly a negative experience being around them because they're very aggressive.

"It only takes a few to make it bad for everyone else."

Olson said the bylaw is meant to provide a mechanism for businesses and community members to be proactive about preventing negative panhandling.

Coralee Rudachyk, general manager of the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce, said she received complaints from member businesses about patrons not being able to access their business because of panhandlers on the boardwalk.  

"There were certain businesses that did have some issues."

The proposed changes will come before Dawson City council next week.

Fines under the proposed bylaw range from $50 for a first offence of loitering on public property, up to $750 for repeat offences of failing to obey an officer.