Time for a roundtable discussion

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Truro town council is facing a slippery slope debating how to deal with loitering in the downtown.

Posted on nearly every shop window is a sign suggesting no one loiter in the area. However, at the same time, there are inviting benches and landscaping seemingly designed for sitting, giving people a place to stop and cool their feet.

The topic of how to determine who can be, and cannot be, on certain streets was broached at  a recent town council meeting. In an email to council, a concerned citizen expressed their displeasure about “undesirable” people in the downtown.

Coun. Raymond Tynes wondered who would be tasked with judging people to make that determination and also, who would enforce it.

The term undesirable conjures a number of images. Some could consider homeless people sitting on a sidewalk undesirable, as they seek the safety of a busy street rather than hiding in shadows. Or is it someone who is dressed a bit rough, having just finished a long, labourous workday who chose to spend time enjoying a coffee with friends on the street?

There is no doubt that it can be intimidating walking past groups of people who by virtue of being there are blocking entrances and diverting foot traffic.

But when it comes to judging people in general, it violates human rights and quickly becomes a fight for social justice.

It is a very fine line to cross. Who is welcome to stay and take in the downtown hospitality and who should keep on walking?

Causing a disturbance is very different than people relaxing or taking in the view while enjoying the surroundings, which have been painstakingly redesigned, beautified and upgraded in recent years.

Behavioural issues can be addressed by police, who are routinely patrolling the area.

Perhaps it is time a roundtable community discussion should be held to address the issue involving police, merchants, residents and people who frequent the area.

Sometimes sharing concerns leads to a positive solution.

 

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Recent comments

  • Bill Smith
    July 17, 2014 - 12:51

    I am in downtown Truro several times a week and I usually see a police officer walking or patrolling by car in the downtown. I am a senior and feel very safe in Truro. Keep up the great job truro police

  • chief wiggam
    July 11, 2014 - 12:51

    it's kinda like feeding birds isn't it? you want the nice golden finches and chick-a-sees coming to feed but then the bluejays and black birds and starlings all come along and drive the others out.

  • dave
    July 11, 2014 - 07:59

    First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me— and there was no one left to speak out for me.” ― Martin Niemöller