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Published September 26, 2023

City of Barrie to update panhandling signage after organization says 'we do not endorse this campaign'

The City of Barrie is going back to the signage board in a re-do after a registered charity tweeted that it did not endorse the municipality's campaign.

The signage reads "say NO to panhandling," and in capital letters says "THERE ARE BETTER WAYS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE," and below is a QR code with the website for https://www.canadahelps.org/en/.

CanadaHelps is a registered charity dedicated to increasing charitable giving across Canada.

"We do that by serving both donors and charities," according to the organization.

But it tweeted it did not endorse the signage posted by the City of Barrie.

In response, the city tweeted that it had seen the feedback and the signs will be updated and will not cite CanadaHelps.

The tweet goes on to explain that Barrie council passed a motion in May directing staff to "take action on initiatives aimed at addressing the chronic homeless situation."

The actual motion reads: "The placement of signs on City off-ramps to discourage panhandling or financial support thereof and encourgaging donations to local service agencies."

When Barrie 360 used the QR code for CanadaHelps, it was directed to the organization's website but not to local charities that work with those experiencing homelessness.

An individual also tweeted that they were not directed to local charities when they used the QR code.

Christine Nayler of Ryan's Hope, which operates an outdoor breakfast program and outreach for the homeless in Barrie, said the signage was a waste of taxpayers money.

"It just shows how irresponsible this council is because they didn't get approval from CanadaHelps, so they're going to have to redo all these signs."

Rather than money going toward signage to discourage panhandling, Nayler says it could have been put toward actually doing some good and helping people in the community.

The city says it began installing the signs on Monday.

"There will be approximately 30 signs at various intersections throughout the city," said Scott LaMantia, the city's Manager of Marketing and Communications in an email to Barrie 360. "The signs were produced in-house and were covered under the approved operating budget."

"CanadaHelps.org was added to the sign because they provide the ability to browse local agencies that accept donations on behalf of people in need and it was our intent to ensure donations made it directly to local service agencies that need it most. However, we have seen the feedback from Canada Helps and will remove reference to this organization on the signs. It will cost about $200 total to update them."

Banner image: Facebook -Christine Weir Nayler

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