Decision delayed

Harry Sullivan
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Motion to close part of Wood Street to vehicles tabled for one month by council

Decision delayed

TRURO - Closing the upper section of Wood Street to vehicles would not eliminate illicit sexual activity but merely drive it elsewhere, the chairman of the Northern Aids Connection Society (NACS) said yesterday.
Doing so would also paint Truro in a dark light, Al McNutt said, during a public meeting held to determine whether a gate, which bars vehicular traffic to the town's watershed at the top of Wood Street, should be moved 300 metres down the road.
Instead of deciding on the issue, however, council opted to table its motion for one month to allow municipal staff more time to investigate parking concerns and related issues for hikers or cross-country skiers, who use that section of Victoria Park.
The issue recently arose following a request by Mayor Bill Mills to move the gate because of his stated concerns over the area's long-standing reputation as a meeting place for gay men.
"Just moving the gate will not cease the obvious activity that is happening there," said NACS executive director Karen Kittleson, who also said such a move would be detrimental to Truro's reputation.
"Vote against moving the gate at the top of Wood Street and by doing so recognize what the gate has become," she said. "It is a symbol of homophobia that has damaged true integrity, has fueled stigma and discrimination and has insulted your fellow residents and human beings who happen to have a different sexual orientation.
"By voting against moving the gate, let our community and people across Canada know without any doubt that homophobic reasoning is not behind nor has ever crept into the scheduling of today regarding the decision to move the Wood Street gate."
During the meeting, McNutt said moving the gate now "... would basically point the finger at the whole council that homophobia is really at play here."
McNutt described Halifax as the city with Canada's third largest gay community and said there are already "rumblings" occurring there of organizing a "major, major parade" in Truro to protest against the move.
And during a media scrum following the meeting, he took his comments farther with outright accusations directed at Mills.
"We don't want Mayor Mills's apology," he said, when asked by a reporter if he had expected that on Monday. "We don't need Mayor Mills's apology. Mayor Mills is who he is. He's homophobic, period, and he has certainly painted his own self with that brush for many, many years."
McNutt said NACS does not condone any illicit sexual activity and suggested the problem should be left for police to deal with if it occurs.
But he also acknowledged that sex in various forms, including heterosexual activities, has been occurring at the top of Wood Street at least since he was a child.
But moving the gate will not stop the activity he said, because people could just walk around it and continue to do as they please.
"If there are men who want to go meet with men they can park their cars and go in the woods and do whatever they want to do."
And the real, immediate danger with the recent publicity surrounding the site, is that an innocent person could be injured or killed, simply by being labeled as gay for being in the area.
"Our biggest fear is the fact that the escalation of possible violence to people who might be in that area of the park, now that the mayor has outed that particular location as being an area where gay men go and frequent or have sex. So, to me, it's just a matter of time and someone is going to get hurt."
During council discussion, Coun. Brian Kinsmen suggested deferring the decision for three months but the motion was defeated in a three-way tie. Mills neither commented nor voted on the issue because he is under investigation for hate comments relating to the issue.
Councillor Raymond Tynes, who advocated relocating the gate as proposed, also recommended charging anyone caught acting
illegally.
"I don't want to give anyone the impression we're backing away," he said. "There are a lot of people who will see it for the wrong reasons but there are a lot of people who will see it for right reasons."
Police Chief David McNeil told council there have only 45 complaints made to police regarding activity at the site since 2005. Of those, two were for public nudity, one was for an indecent act and 10 involved reports of suspicious vehicles or persons.

Organizations: Northern Aids Connection Society

Geographic location: Wood Street, TRURO, Canada Victoria Park

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • flogger
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    To Russell: Why don't you tell me what Al's agenda is .... in the papers, on TV, in the media in general?

  • Russell
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    @flogger: Out of curiosity, could you please define Al McNutt's agenda?

  • John R
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    I don't know what the big issue is I personally don't go there so let it be, and Bill if or if you go there how can you voice any opinion-let your feet do the talking, it makes it hard for the next opinion for you.
    Sincerely
    John Blair

  • Leah
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    I don't care who you are,what you like or who you do-you need to grow up if you think that meeting (to do things that should be done in private) in a public park is okay. he was voted mayor and he has every right to do his job as he sees fit. instead of sticking up for the gay community tell them its wrong and ILLEGAL to partake in public acts as such. ... seriously truro-a hate crime?

  • Enoch
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    People have been going up there for years, all types. The main entrance to the park is always a safe place to take your kids. I would imagine that at the Wood street entrance, these people hetro and homo are present at night. Just avoid the area at these times and have the police patrol the area. This would never have been an issue if the mayor didn't bring religion into politics. It is his own fault that this has been blown out of proportion.

  • B
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    Flogger
    there is one flaw in your proposal.

    all larger communities and cities have these types of occurences. However, when you think of Halifax, do you immediately think Oh gross that citadel hill, why dont they do anything! they should put an electrical fence all the way around it to stop all people from conjugating at night and performing possible sexual acts

    I dont think you do. If someones first impression or thoughts of halifax is gays and citadel hill, then you need therapy.

    that is the problem with this scenario. These things happen. People are sexual beings. Put the gate further down the hill, make them walk longer, or if they are lazy and have a car, they might just start going to Victoria Square, or the trails out in Debert. Can you see the cycle such actions as imposed by our mayor can bring forth?

    You cant stop sex. It is the whole purpose of our existence and people will not stop having sex because you put a gate up!!! Its not like these people are performing acts like this downtown or in your subdivision. So why cant people just be happy knowing these activites are inevitable and at least its our of our sight. Now for minors, where are the parents!?!?! why isnt anyone yelling at the parents, obviously is a teenager is having se outside, its not the outdoors that should be punished and made inexcessible, its the parents and the school system we need to evaluate in teaching respect and pride for our youths self images.

    AND .. what are people doing up top that barren hill late at night anyways !?!?!?!?!?!?!

    im a young adult and yet i have no desire to walk around in unlit forested paths with no people and potential confrontations with danger

    Yes, I know it is not only homosexuals up on the hill, but this is not the first time Bill Mills was quoted in the media to dislike this group of people.

    That is intolerance. your actions against this is what is creating the reputation.

  • not so innocent town
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    then you really can't be from Truro. Because there is a field in the park called f%%%ers field and that is where our children are having sex, maybe you have turned a blind eye do to the fact that it's heterosexual sex, or maybe you just don't want to admit it.But people need to know that it's not just gay people meeting at the top of wood street it teenagers and people looking to have an affair.

  • moi
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    what happened to freedom of speach, and im with the mayor on this. sorry guys but i refuse to go there with my children until something is done. talk about blowing things way out of proportion, a hate crime, grow up

  • Beth from Truro
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Bill Mills seems to be kicking his own a**e everytime he opens his mouth about the park. You'd think he would learn to either say something differently or just say nothing because it comes back to bite him. The park isn't trolled solely by gay men; I've seen teenagers up there going at it hot and heavy and I just avoid the area all together.

  • RJD
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    chief wiggam: so you propose we secretly take video of Bill Mills and town council indulging in shameless discrimination and post the videos online in an effort to shame them? Good thinking.

    No one's arguing in favour of public lewdness or indecency. It's discriminatory because the gay community was singled out. Sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with whatever laws have been broken at the top of Wood Street, and so the implication is that homosexual activity is somehow more threatening, immoral and illegal than heterosexual activity which in turn reinforces the negative attitudes that do lead to actual hate crimes.

    It's not that difficult to understand.

  • lwronslow
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Way to go, Truro. National CBC news, the Globe and Mail, great media coverage for our little town - just like in 07.

  • B.
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Bill Mills sure became a scapegoat for this one, didn't he? Many people know what goes on up there and Randy MacKenzie has just gone with the politically correct route....yes, Truro will never change!!

  • flogger
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    This will be the second time I will attempt to post this comment ...

    Which is the lesser of two evils?? ... Truro having a reputation of being intolerant to gays who wish to perform sexual acts in a public park, OR, Truro having a reputation as being tolerant to gays who wish to perform sexual acts in a public park?

    I support Bill Mills 100% and Al MacNutt is doing what he always does ... seeking some attention to his agenda through media sensationalism.

  • Larry
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    What a joke! mayor Mills may or may not be homophobic but he is simply stating facts. We are making Truro out to look like a bunch of hicks due to a another vocal minority group. I don't know of any outdoor area where heterosexuals go to sit and pick up other heterosexuals to go in the woods with them. If there was I would be appalled and disgusted. If Mr McNutt wants credibility he should be trying to deter fellow homosexuals from demeaning themselves by trolling on Wood St. rather than putting the spotlight on Bill Mills.

  • Charinator
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    So typical of TDN

    If it's gay or ndp it makes front page

    Lets not forget their commitment to freedom of speech... we as long as they agree with your comments.

  • Roger
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    I think the decision hasn't been delayed at all. I'm pretty sure town council has already made up their mind but don't want to go public. All eyes are on Truro town council and they know if they vote now there will be a bigger uproar. They want to wait until things calm down and they will try to quietly vote on the matter. Obviously the image of Truro being intolerant to the gay community is out there. Town council should have used this opportunity to try to undo the damage Bill Mills has done and voted against closing the top of wood street. IMHO, delaying the vote already tells us that they want to move forward with this.

  • Joan
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    B L from Truro, NS:

    I have friends that are gay as well as several members of my family, I know they feel appreciated by the people around them. They don't feel the need to march in the Gay Parade in leather thongs or other similar attire, in fact, they feel it is nothing but a public display and the individuals just make themselves look ridiculous. Nor do they accuse the Mayor of hate crimes, they simply say he has the right to his own opinion. My brother is gay and he said it is common knowledge among the gay community what goes on at the top of Wood Street although many people deny it. When asked if he ever ventured up there, his response was simple...he has more respect for himself.

  • B
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Moi : Why would you want to take your children to the far side of the park, whihc is deserted and has like no people around? Dont children prefer the main entrance with the playgorund equipment and other children? im confused.

    Elton: I am sure if the gay community felt more appreciated and less outcasted by people like the mayor, they wouldnt feel the need to go in the park . Also, isnt this what you people who dont want to see homsexuality should prefer? I mean, you complain about the flag, complain about this, you people force them to hide their sexuality , and now you want to use and area of the park you never frequented in the first place.?!?!?! Face it. Homsexuality has been around since there was people. Your ancestors, your leaders, your spiritual guiders, all have homsexuals in them. its time to face reality.

    Not so innocent: Kids are going to have sex no matter what you do. THat's a fact. The best thing a parent or community can do is inform, give them condoms or means of control. The further you try to stopt hem from finding a place, the further your kids will go from you to find a new place to have sex. I'd worry more about the crack and coke in this town. Because i cant walkdowntown without seeing a crackhead. and well thats more an eyesore to me.

  • EricfromNS
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Mayor Mills has nothing to apologize for. This McNutt individual needs to apologize to the mayor for his intolerant attitude and shameful insults. It is an outrage that our legal system investiages a person for exercising free speech.

  • chief wiggam
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    time for the video vigilante like that guy who got fed up with the hookers and johns in his community. he took plate numbers and video then turned over to police. plus posted them on you tube.

  • Elton
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    I would suggest this is unwarranted time and resources spent to embarrass a great mayor. I would also suggest this is not a case of homophobic but rather a case of morality and the best interests of the citizens of Truro within that context. I would also suggest I am entitled to an opinion.