North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP say concerns about panhandling are prompting them to step up enforcement, especially along the median at Trunk Road and the Trans Canada.

RCMP say as well as an increase in complaints, there’s a safety issue.

Corporal Krista Hobday says there’s already been one close call with an intoxicated panhandler who almost fell into traffic.

Hobday says Cowichan Tribes Council is worried about the situation too.

Hobday says RCMP can fine panhandlers under a law called the Safe Streets Act. She says they understand most probably can’t pay, but for some of them ending up in court is a step that can lead to getting help.

She also says RCMP have some advice for the public:

“The same individuals you see on the street with their hat in hand have the option to frequent the Cowichan Valley Basket Society  and other community resources. Cowichan Tribes offers food vouchers to those in need and The Welcome Centre has a breakfast program to mention a few. The individuals that work at these worth while community services can liaise with those who drop by and give them information on how to access the resource that will best fulfill their needs. If members of the public would like to contribute to the food bank or other related charities, we encourage you to do that instead of tossing a loonie into a hat at the street corner.”