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City of Barrie removes new anti-panhandling signs after Canadian charity rejects being linked to the initiative

The City of Barrie is facing backlash after installing controversial new anti-panhandling signs with a QR code linking to - a national charity that quickly rejected being linked to the initiative.

Residents may have noticed the signs that read, 'Say NO to panhandling – There are better ways to make a difference.'

The City put them up following a contentious motion passed by councillors earlier this year to address the city's growing homelessness problem.

Councillors voted to have the signs put up to discourage donating to panhandlers and instead direct would-be donors toward supporting various local service agencies that work with the city's homeless population.

However, the signs include a QR code that links to, and after learning of the signs, CanadaHelps posted on social media that it wanted nothing to do with the campaign.

"It's been brought to our attention that our name and URL have been included on signage for the City of Barrie," the post by CanadaHelps reads. "We do not endorse this campaign and have requested to be removed from this signage. CanadaHelps respects all forms of support for the vulnerable."

The City confirmed to CTV News that it is responsible for putting up 15 of the planned 30 signs and is working to remove the reference to CanadaHelps.

" provides 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," a spokesman for the City of Barrie said. "However, we have seen the feedback from Canada Helps and will remove reference to this organization on the signage."

The bylaw to deter panhandling passed earlier this year created national headlines for the city.

In addition to the anti-panhandling signs, an amendment would have prevented the distribution of things like food to the city's homeless population while on city-owned property, a change that was withdrawn after public backlash.

On Tuesday, the City removed the 15 signs and said it is working to revise all 30 to encourage donating to local services rather than panhandlers, with no reference to CanadaHelps.

"I have two questions for the mayor. The first one is, why would you want to make homeless people even more desperate than they are already? And the second question is, how much public money was spent on this misleading sign campaign?" asked Rev. Susan Eagle, Grace United Church.

The City isn't saying how much the signs cost to make, but did tell CTV News it would be $200 to have them redone.

Mayor Alex Nuttall was unavailable for comment. Top Stories

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