A change to a public places bylaw that will give police and bylaw officers the power to crackdown on aggressive panhandling is now one step away from becoming a reality.

A city committee agreed Monday to send a motion to city council, who will make the ultimate decision on the proposed amendment to make it illegal for anyone to panhandle aggressively — that includes stopping someone from making continual requests, making threats, or making physical contact with another person.

The motion will also include a campaign urging people to stop giving money to panhandlers, encouraging panhandlers to find other options to make money.

Mayor Stephen Mandel said an aggressive panhandling bylaw in Edmonton is only a “small part of the equation” in fixing the growing problem.

“There is a need to educate, there is a need to have good programs, but I also think we need to give police the tools to deal with those aggressive panhandlers,” said Mandel during the meeting.

“There are ways to make a living and not to make a living and hopefully this bylaw will deal with those people who are not obeying the law and … some education might help, too.”

The Edmonton Police Commission, who made the motion, is urging council to make the change as police figures showed 181 incidents of aggressive panhandling incidents last year. Eighty-one of those incidents occurred in the downtown core.

The commission is also asking that fines for aggressive panhandling be $250, but there will be options for people who can’t pay it.

Under current laws, a peace officer needs to prove how a panhandler’s actions affected the flow of people on the street in order to issue a ticket.

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