Safe Streets Act

Safe Streets Act

The Safe Streets Act, 1999 is a law in the province of Ontario, Canada, not to be confused with the US Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. In 2004 the province of British Columbia passed its own version of the Safe Streets Act (SSA), substantially a word-for-word copy of the Ontario version. The SSA prohibits aggressive solicitation of persons in certain public places and the disposal of dangerous things in certain public places. It also amends the Highway Traffic Act to regulate certain activities on roadways. The SSA was enacted by the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris and received royal assent on December 14, 1999.

The act was created in response to what was seen as the growing problem of squeegee kids on the streets. By 1999, it was very common to see squeegee kids on some of the busiest intersections where they would solicit motorists for spare change.

The Ontario SSA was affirmed by the Ontario Court of Appeal on a constitutional challenge after the Ontario Superior Court also upheld its validity in 2005. The Supreme Court of Canada has denied an application for review.

Criticism

This act has been criticized by many anti-poverty groups for being too strict and too vague on what it defines as aggressive panhandling. The bill limits aggressive panhandling but does not distinctly say what aggressive panhandling is. The bill states that "aggressive manner" means "a manner that is likely to cause a reasonable person to be concerned for his or her safety or security." This could mean almost anything as different people have different standards for when their own safety has been compromised.

Furthermore, the act has been criticized for being poorly enforced. Police officers in Ottawa have shown to be ignorant of the precepts of the act itself even though they mention it by name. For example, even if a panhandler is not violating any of the examples given for aggressive panhandling, a police officer may still give the panhandler a ticket.Fact|date=February 2007 One of the ways panhandlers get around this is by carrying a copy of the Safe Streets Act.

The Safe Streets Act was protested by a group of one hundred homeless in May 2006 in Ottawa who mostly identified themselves as anarchists. The march and protest was organized by the Panhandlers Union of Ottawa, a local branch of the Ottawa-Outaouais Industrial Workers of the World. Two prominent Wobblies are Jane Scharf and Andrew Nellis who have been a vocal opponent of the Safe Streets Act in Ottawa.

See also

* Residential Tenancies Act (Ontario)

External links

* [http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_99s08_e.htm Ontario Safe Streets Act]
* [http://www.qp.gov.bc.ca/statreg/stat/S/04075_01.htm British Columbia Safe Streets Act]


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