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CaptKangaroo Jun 12th, 2006 11:04 AM

Toronto The Good, The BAd, & The Ugly
G'day all

I don't like to post negative comments on these forums but I felt obliged to warn potential tourists about the plague of street beggars in Toronto.

Just returned from a 5-day mini vacation in Toronto and I was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of beggars on the streets. I'm not new to Toronto --- I've been there hundreds of times before. (I live in Niagara). I'm not talking about the people with obvious mental or substance abuse problems that former Premier Mike Harris abandoned and tossed out on to the streets to fend for themselves.

The new beggars, that I'm referring to, are all 20-something young men who appear reasonably healthy (mentally & physically) and are an absolute blight on the city aggressively bothering people everywhere for handouts!

Don't forsake Toronto. It's a great city --- very safe, easy to get around and lots to do. I know that I sound hard-hearted, but please ignore the current scourge of beggars on the streets this summer and hopefully that will encourage them to seek adventure elsewhere!


SallyCanuck Jun 12th, 2006 11:33 AM

Hi Captain: Write and tell the Mayor of your concerns - he ignores residents but maybe you'll have better luck.

E-mail: [email protected]

Toronto City Hall, 2nd Floor, 100 Queen St. West, Toronto ON M5H 2N2
416-397-CITY (2489)

Intrepid1 Jun 12th, 2006 12:42 PM

Odd...I was just there last month and did a lot of walking around and didn't notice any. Perhaps I was in the wrong neighborhood or not paying attention.

CaptKangaroo, perhaps you just look easy and approachable!

BAK Jun 12th, 2006 01:11 PM

Partly not true... I live in the heart of dowtown. Beggars don't bother pedestrians to any noticible extent.

Just say "sorry" and keep walking, unless you're feeling generous.

But you do have to walk around them sprawled out on the street. Some will speak as you pass, some will ignore you, some will perform some task in return for a donation -- opening the doors to subway stations is a favorite -- and other just pee their pants so you want to walk a few feet further away to keep the soles of your shoes dry.

I'm making a collection of photos for my tourism web site.

Writing the mayor is not a bad idea.

The problem is where to stash these folks.


SallyCanuck Jun 14th, 2006 06:04 AM

I forwarded your comments to my own councillor who is busy trying to bring a World's Fair to Toronto - he hasn't replied.

As for stashing these folks - most of them are healthy and could work instead of collecting welfare - they choose not to. One man sits at the southwest corner of Bay and King with his dog - I'm surprised by the number of people who stop to chat with him just because of the dog - and give him money. Do they think he's feeding the dog with the dough?

BAK Jun 14th, 2006 09:18 AM

Re>most of them are healthy and could work instead of collecting welfare <

And their skill set would be?

And employers looking for former derelicts include...?


SallyCanuck Jun 14th, 2006 09:43 AM

BAK: Is it really fulfilling being full of yourself all the time?

How about after getting over your addiction: truck drivers, serving in a restaurant or coffee shop or Swiss Chalet, security guard, delivering pizza, newspapers, or the one that really requires no skill: PR people? I believe the fellow who started Second Cup spent a year or so on the streets - he got into a program and pulled himself up by the bootstraps so it is possible.

Gavin Jun 14th, 2006 01:38 PM

I have been going to downtown Toronto daily for the last 18 years and don't think that there has been much change in the number of panhandlers in recent years. They don't cause me any trouble as I walk by and I don't see them bothering anybody. Naturally it would be preferable for all if circumstances were such that they were not begging on the streets but we won't solve that issue here.

SallyCanuck Jun 14th, 2006 02:49 PM

You must have luckily missed the fellow at the corner of Adelaide and Bay who often dressed as Santa - usually in the summer. He did not like women so in our office the gals used the other side of the street to get to the Eaton Centre at lunch.

I'm down here every day too and really feel there are more of them - I thought one fellow was dead on Monday but just as I started to dial 911, someone tripped over him and he woke up.

You are, of course, correct, we can't solve it here.

kodi Jun 14th, 2006 06:45 PM

Another job for them to do...they could pick up all the garbage along the sid eof the roads and pick up all the litter in the city parks. Make then work for their welfare.

If they like the country side, they could go out in the country and earn money picking fruit. It would save brining in all the hard working Mexicans, who appreciate making the money. Room and board even provided.
Oh right they would rather beg than work too hard!! Darn.

Are they not shipping them to Hammilton anymore?

SallyCanuck Jun 15th, 2006 05:19 AM

That's a great idea - except the city unions made a fuss when it was suggested. Said it would take jobs away from their members - so no one picks it up.

Another job - weed public places since the city has banned chemical weed killers.

wrldtrvlr05 Jun 15th, 2006 08:54 AM

Good for you SallyCanuck. This country is just too darn easy on these people. There are lots of jobs that they can do to earn their keep. Trying living in Victoria where we don't have harsh winters. They have that figured out come west for the winter and beg or just lie around on the streets. Of course its easy to get a meal - just get in line at one of the shelters. I have had them shout obscenities at me for refusing to give them a dollar.

SallyCanuck Jun 15th, 2006 10:49 AM

I've seen the Mexican fruit pickers at the airport going home when the season is over - they take enormous amounts of stuff - tires, which I thought was odd, lots of bags from WalMart and Zeller's and bursting boxes. They do pretty well after a few months work and no handouts - but it would obviously be demeaning for our own citizens to do such work and leave the cities where the beer store and LCBO are readily available.

faithie Jun 15th, 2006 04:21 PM

Do u all really think it's as cut and dry as pull up your socks and get a job...?

SallyCanuck Jun 16th, 2006 05:31 AM

New York got people off the streets by requiring them to be treated for their addictions in order to get welfare. Not simple but it can work. Here they just get the money - no questions asked.

No one should give them money when they beg - they'd soon stop.

No organization should drive around at night giving them blankets, food and drink when they could be in a shelter.

The attitude that they can't be helped, just give them money, ignore them, let them die on the streets is hardly the right way to deal with it and that's what this city does.

CaptKangaroo Jun 16th, 2006 11:08 AM

What an interesting thread! Seems that I’ve really touched a NERVE here.

Roses to posters like you Sally Canuck for not turning a blind eye to this problem and for having the courage to agitate for a solution.

Arrows to posters like you BAK who advise tourists to keep their shoes dry by just maneuvering around beggars sprawling on the sidewalk who are urinating themselves!

Please understand that I don’t pretend to have an easy solution to this problem. But ignoring it certainly doesn’t help. BAK’s naïve ”Nancy Reaganesque” suggestion that people should “just say sorry” is a sad indictment of our times.


JJ5 Jun 16th, 2006 11:28 AM

I was in Toronto last month and was asked for money exactly 4 times within the 2 days I was there. One time he followed us, and I became uncomfortable but he did finally drop off.

They are in all the tourist downtown areas and venues in all the big cities. I don't think any government can have an answer for everybody who lives within its boundaries.

Most of the people could be more self-production and choose another kind of life in one way or another. If you work in the mental health addiction fields, you see it all the time. But some are mentally ill and really just don't want to be in an institutional setting.

And yet I do see Down's Syndrome people in their 30's and 40's working in group homes etc. and they have chosen to do that rather than be on a street begging.

But it isn't just Toronto. There are lots of choice pickings in any tourist spot that is densely visited.

I myself think the worst thing you can do is give them cash.

SallyCanuck Jun 16th, 2006 12:05 PM

Capt: your original post made "Best of Blogs" in the Sun yesterday. I doubt the Mayor read it though.

SallyCanuck Jun 16th, 2006 12:06 PM

And thank you, Captain K, for your kind words.

gannetmusic Jun 16th, 2006 12:16 PM

These folks are on the streets for many different reasons.

I wish there was one simple remedy or a dozen simple remedies.

Everyone should spend a few months working in a shelter, or with street kids, or addicts. It certainly made me realize that most of my preconceptions were inaccurate, and that, although there are common themes, every one of the people living on the streets is a unique INDIVIDUAL.

The number of street kids who have been abused by parents /caregivers is astonishing.


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