Loiterers lingering in Kentville's downtown a concern for council, businesses

Wendy Elliott
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A lone commissionaire stands on duty outside the TD Canada Trust building on Webster Street in Kentville to deter loiterers.

Kentville Mayor David Corkum said last week that policing the downtown core has become a priority.

He noted that TD Canada Trust on Webster Street has hired a commissionaire to discourage individuals from lounging outside the branch.

Coun. Tony Bentley said he understood that as many as 20 people were in the habit of sitting on the step on a Saturday morning. He said he spoke with one business owner who considered leaving the town because of loiterers near a location on Cornwallis Avenue.

“Some people are afraid to go downtown,” Bentley said.

Lori Nauss, who is the TD branch manager, said the commissionaire has been hired for 30 days on a trial basis. She added that his presence is proving to be a deterrent.

Corkum said that with increased security on site, “you don’t see people hanging around like they did before.”

The mayor said he had heard stories about 80-year-old ladies going out into the street to avoid groups of loiterers.

Coun. Eric Bolland said the subject is an emotional issue and wondered if some loiterers might be charged with smoking in a public place.

Several years ago Kentville decided to pipe in classical-type music in an effort to deter loiterers in the same area.

Police Chief Mark Mander pointed out to council at its June 9 meeting that, for many residents of central Kentville, the “downtown square is their back yard. They live and play in the downtown.”

Mander said it is very difficult to tag someone as a loiterer.

“Is it based on looks?” he asked.

Furthermore there is a lack of signage prohibiting loitering the police chief said. He said foot patrols by his officers are up compared to last month.

Organizations: TD Canada Trust

Geographic location: Kentville, Webster Street, Cornwallis Avenue

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Recent comments

  • Bill Boyd
    June 26, 2014 - 16:27

    In short the problem is inept council management especially in the planning department.. They don't know what they want for the downtown core! I've experienced it first-hand. Less photo-ops more professionalism - methinks!

  • Anonymous
    June 24, 2014 - 10:44

    I grew up in a small town before moving to the valley and there was nothing there for young people to do. So in lieu of not having anything to do, the teens and 20 something's hung out on main street. Packs of young people that, yes, people had to walk through or around. The solution came in the form of a small business owner who set up a pool hall with a designated smoking area to the side of the building. This got the people off he street and gave them a place to hang out that was central to the town but not causing uppity people to complain about loitering and smoking in the main business area. If the town wants to try to stop people from hanging out in a place such as centre square, maybe they should put something in place for these people to go to. How long has the building that the edge used to be in stood empty? How long has that massive space gone unused when it could be giving people a place to go hang out instead? I think rather than having the town and the people with their noses in the air complaining about the problem, they should be working to fix it! Lord knows if I had money backing me, I would. But there is always a solution to the problem, it's just no one is willing to do anything about it. Like someone said in an earlier comment, it may be a business district but it's also the location of low income housing. If the town wants to keep the down town area for both demographics, then something needs to be put into place for the persons who live in this area. To cheesily quote an old movie, "If you build it, they will come". As Eldridge Cleaver once said, “If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.”

  • Gloria Malley
    June 22, 2014 - 12:36

    Oh poor Janice My heart is breaking for you. Count yourself lucky you have a job, be lucky you have a home , a lot of other people in the real world have fallen on hard times. Stop your whining princess and walk around people like the rest of the world , they pay taxes and have the right to do as they please and go where they want. The town needs to put some money into programs to help these people instead of getting on your high horse as if the world revolves around you

    • Laura
      June 23, 2014 - 11:01

      I guess they pay sales tax like the rest of us do, the "rest" being those who pay property tax, gas tax, income tax, excessive taxes mandated by the govt that pay to help these folks get out of the system. Theres nothing wrong with expecting everyone to provide respect. Those who use the town centre as their backyard, they need to respect those doing business downtown. They need to clear out of the sidewalks for clients and business owners during business hours, smoke somewhere else, watch their language, and in turn, businesses will stay, versus packing up and leaving the downtown core. I dont care who you are, old, young, it doesnt matter. Navigating your way through crowds of people down town can be intimidating, expecially when those crowds are using inappropriate language, are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or are having disputes right in front of the coffee shop. Perhaps the respect needs to go both ways and we also need a town council that recognizes that if they are going to provide the housing for those less fortunate to be in the down town area, that they need to provide a real back yard for them to spend time in. A green area, open to the public. Maybe dollars could be better spent policing that area than fining people for standing on the sidewalk because the apartment that they live in is sweltering or the shelter is closed during the day. Theres two sides to this and every other story. There are also ways to correct the problem. Those of you paying taxes in Kentville ought to get to work on pressuring the council and Mayor to make this town work. Arguing about who should be allowed where and when is not going to solve this problem. However, if the TOK expects businesses to stay and bring more revenue to the town, they should probably start solving this problem.

  • Janice Leekie
    June 21, 2014 - 21:27

    I work in Kentville, right down from Open Arms. When we walk out of our doors, we walk into a cloud of cigarette smoke. When we try to walk for a coffee we, and our clients, have to walk around or through people standing on the sidewalk. Every single day. While they are not threatening, it certainly diminishes any sense of professionalism the downtown core is trying to convey. Walking over to Tim's can be uncomfortable as well, people in their pajamas again standing around smoking. If it makes me a bad person for saying this, so be it. People should be able to shop and conduct their business without having to walk around or through those who having nothing else to do but stand around.

    • Kathy
      June 21, 2014 - 22:06

      Seems to me like Kentville wants it all. They want to allow low income and subsidized housing in it's downtown core, then they also want businesses to invest in the downtown core. On top of this, the want the two groups of people to co exist. The business owners and employees are free to wander the downtown, purchase expensive beverages, chat amongst themselves. The low income, govt subsidized people that the town "allows" to occupy the downtown, less attractive housing, is apparently expected to be out of sight . I'm sorry town of kentville, you can't have it both ways. Decide what you want Kentville to be and support your decision. Stop with the wishy washy political answers and catering to whomever screams the loudest. Fining people for grabbing a coffee and enjoying some sunshine because they live in an apt downtown with no pool to lounge by or no porch to even sit on? Let's be real here, that's just ridiculous.

    • Alanna
      June 25, 2014 - 12:23

      Oh Janice, how terrible it must be to leave your office job and have to deal with smokers and *gasp* people wearing pajamas! Last I checked Kentville is a part of Canada. Canada is a free country and those wishing to stand on a sidewalk, or wear pajamas in public were certainly allowed to. Maybe some of our tax dollars should be spent hiring a fashion police service? These smokers that are standing around, if they purchased those cigarettes in Kentville, weren't they "conducting business"? Anyone standing with a Tim Horton's coffee also spent some money in your town. Perhaps instead of judging these people "who have nothing else to do but stand around", get to know them instead. Have you ever volunteered for Open Arms? Have you ever spent a night awake volunteering with Inn From The Cold? I have, and I can tell you that the only difference between these people and you is luck. These people "with nothing better to do" have stories, perhaps they are down on their luck. Perhaps they have spent months looking for work and that time spent on the sidewalk is a relief from their daily stresses of wondering how they will pay for their next meal or their rent. Be thankful you have a job that allows you to afford those coffees. Instead of judging next time, offer up a smile or a hello...most of them are very sweet individuals!

  • concerned Canadian
    June 21, 2014 - 08:12

    "Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms",, or is downtown Kentville not a part of Canada ???

  • Kaylaa
    June 19, 2014 - 16:04

    They need to realize that it is an easy place to find and get to. I had to meet my mother a few summers back in Kentville. She picked center square in Kentville because it was close to the office. I was 30 minutes early, it was a heat wave and I had no A/C in my car, so I waited outside my car. I was told to either wait in my car with no A/C (at 35 weeks pregnant), or in Tim Horton's (during RUSH HOUR).

    • Janet Newton
      June 21, 2014 - 17:24

      About two years ago, I was chatting with a person I knew outside the TD Bank, the bank I use when two Kentville policemen pulled up and told us to move on . They said they had made two passes by and we were still in the same place and that was loitering. Needless to say I was shocked at being treated that way . So was my late husband Walter and his call to the police chief was never returned.

  • Kaylaa
    June 19, 2014 - 15:51

    Most of these people are standing around TD is because Tim Horton's is too busy to find a place to sit, or they are waiting to meet someone at Tim Horton's, or are meeting up with someone because it is an EASY place to find. People from and out of town know how to get there, or can find it easily. I have been rudely told to leave while waiting for my mother to attend my prenatal appointment. I explained why I was there and they told me to either wait in my HOT car (While I was 35 weeks pregnant) or to go into Tim Horton's and wait (while it was rush hour and a line was out the door!).

    • Jeri
      June 24, 2014 - 12:27

      Makes you wonder about your legal rights .. I would look them up and enforce them yourself .. Nowadays if you don't stand up for your own rights .. They can and will be taken away from you ...

  • ConcernedinKentville
    June 19, 2014 - 08:16

    it's unbelievable that town counsel is acting this way because of the way this group of people look. I walk through there daily and it's nothing but a bunch of teenagers socializing. You get the odd bad word but for the most part it's peoples own stigma's that cause them to be concerned by the group.... The chief of police should be thanked for telling it like it is. I have heard that the mayor is laying off two more police officers soon and that one of the wages is being paid completely by the province!!!! The decisions of this counsel are terrible. Corkum needs to go!!

    • Moral Compass
      June 19, 2014 - 09:42

      I'm confused. Where in the article did it indicate that council, as you said, "is acting this way because of the way this group of people look"? Has the article been edited to delete this inference? Or are you trying to place words into the mouths of council which is, at a minimum, very irresponsible and ,to an extreme, bordering on slander.

    • ConcernedinKentville
      June 19, 2014 - 15:36

      moral. i didn't state clearly what i meant. what i meant is, if you spend any time there the vast majority 90% and above are young people, many of them living pay cheque to pay cheque. just trying to get by. the people that are offended are the ones that are walking by these people and are "concerned" because of the looks of the people. spend any time there and the comments are the same about the group that normally hangs there. These people in turn complain to the mayor and other members of counsel. Instead of trying to help the people that really need the help, the town counsel side with the people that make the complaints (a very select few, mostly business owners who sway votes) In turn the mayor puts pressure on the police force to act but really the police are reluctant to do any more then move these people on unless there is a criminal complaint. It's been going on for years. round and round they go.

  • Anthony
    June 19, 2014 - 07:16

    Shame on you Mayor David Corkum, CAO Mark Phillips and the whole town council. If you spent a little of the taxes you collected back into community, and helping get programs started and up and running, and not spending the money that has been allocated for these programs on other things, you would not be facing concerns such as this. I think it's time for a new generation to start running out town. It seems like the people who gave been elected year after year(s) need to set back, give themselves a break and let a new group make decisions. That is the only way this town is going to move forward. Shame on all the elected in Kentville for letting nan issue like this get so out of hand. Maybe one of them will give up their house and land , co it can become a community park! Just sayin

    • Anita
      June 19, 2014 - 09:40

      Agreed. I think we need a new Mayor. Do you think. Mr. Mayor, that anyone in the town of Kentville is going to feel you are humble & a man of & for the people when you drive around in your convertible & pose for photo ops every chance you get?!

  • Ryan
    June 19, 2014 - 06:06

    I read this and laughed. Really? You want to DETER people from spending time in your town's downtown core?! This just seems like something out of another era. I'm sure the town has bigger things to worry about than people 'loitering'.

    • Jeri
      June 24, 2014 - 12:31

      When they offend enough people, then they will be hollering that no one shops there, lol

  • Concerned Citizen
    June 18, 2014 - 23:48

    Businesses want to leave Kentville? Oh Mr Mayor, that happened many years ago and wasn't because people were hanging in front of Tim Horton's or the bank. They left and went to New Minas because of ridiculous taxes and land use by laws. Let's not be confused. Nice way to throw rocks at YOUR Kentville Police Service. Kudos to Chief Mander and the great team of law enforcement staff he has. Keep up the good work.

  • Faye
    June 18, 2014 - 22:19

    Shame shame on you politional bully's. That have beautiful homes thanks to the tax payers , and you have nothing better to do then pick on the public and less fortunate people, and judge by there looks , wow , shame on you , no wonder people are depressed and no wonder we have so much mental health , instead of thinking of ways to help people or raise minimum wage so people can work, eat and have a roof you rather sit in a comfy chair and bully people as I said shame on you !!!!! Take some of that time and get open arms open , help your community don't judge

  • Cassidy Hatt
    June 18, 2014 - 22:07

    The so called "loiterers" outside of Tim Horton's enjoy using the space the Town Square has offered to converse and socially gather with peers and other community members. They do not pose harm to by-passers, they simply use the space to interact with one another in harmony. You cannot judge a book by it's cover, I have heard this numerous times throughout my life, as well as preached it… being nineteen now, I have walked through Kentville my whole entire life and have always felt safe and greeted each individual with mutual respect - no matter what they looked like. What bothers me, is that the town has provoked an argument that they believe is worth fighting, when in reality it is not an issue to begin with.

  • glen
    June 18, 2014 - 21:55

    True orwellian style. Ridiculous. I don't live in Kentville, but work on a weekly basis in the town. I see people around, have never had a problem. Some people need to stop judging by appearance and learn to relax a bit, enjoy life and others

  • Anita
    June 18, 2014 - 21:36

    Since when are people afraid to go into downtown Kentville? If there are citizens that are sincerely afraid, I think they need to take a look at the crime rates in other areas of Nova Scotia & the maritimes. Kentville, as well as the Annapolis Valley, is extremely safe. I lived in Saint John, NB for 10 years & wasn't even afraid of walking alone at night [although crime has increased there]. There are very very VERY few incidents of random violent crime in the Valley. By that, I mean the perpetrator not knowing the victim. When have you heard of a little old lady being mugged in broad daylight or someone being sexually assaulted by a stranger? It's just not happening. I will admit, I am not in downtown Kentville after 8pm, so I have no idea what goes on in Town Square, but I have often been in town early Saturday morning & have never seen a group of people [let alone 20] loitering in front of TD Bank or anywhere else. I agree with another commenter. Give people a place to go. There is a large area across from the fire department...it would be the perfect spot for a park with benches, grassy area, a fountain perhaps. Sure, some people might use the area SOMETIMES to commit a crime [in the Valley that means deal drugs] but why do a few bad apples have to spoil the town for the rest of us tax-paying, law-abiding citizens? There is very little to do in Kentville, no place to hang out & relax. Wolfville has plenty of areas for residents to relax, sit on a bench, eat lunch etc. We should be striving as a community to be more focused on well-being & the positive things about our town, rather than worrying about a few minor annoyances that other towns barely bat an eye at. Kentville seems to be buying into it's own reputation & that's certainly not going to do anything to change it.

  • Tina MacKinnon
    June 18, 2014 - 20:14

    If anyone is blocking the sidewalk or entrances they can be asked to move. If they are harassing pedestrians, they need to stop. Are they biking or skateboarding and weaving in and out among pedestrians? Hanging around doesn't strike me as a problem, we've got to state what they are DOING (if anything) that's so problematic or it's just a power trip against citizens that can't fight back.

  • Bill Boyd
    June 18, 2014 - 18:15

    Surely a complete over-reaction! People afraid to visit the downtown core of Kentville! Have been in the downtown core at various times of the day and the night and never experienced any problem. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - methinks. And shame on you Mayor Corkum for buying into this. There are other more pressing priorities about town that warrant your attention. Let' s not jump so quickly on the "tough on crime" bandwagon.

  • Nick Stern
    June 18, 2014 - 17:27

    I would love to see a commissionaire stop me from taking a quick break to have my lunch outside in a public place!! Since when is Kentville run by a dictatorship? I can understand not to hang around an entrance to a business, but for the kpd to judge us on the way we dress? How about some of is have dirty jobs so we wear old clothes... Better than the paper pushing desk jockeys that on most occasions don't get their hands dirty. Mayor Corkum is a very nice man but I'm starting to double guess his decisions lately..

  • Gloria Malley
    June 18, 2014 - 13:14

    Really how ridiculous, this is my home town and people have a right to choose where they go , it's getting out of the house for some, chatting up with friends, or they just like watching what's going on. It's the people you don't see who you should be worried about. And if you hate it that much move away and stop your whining about the small stuff. As kids we all hung out downtown and most of us are quite successful in life etc. doctors , teachers, lawyers etc. News flash we don't have dictator leadership here or do we ? Grow up and find somthing else to waste tax payers money on

  • Barbara
    June 18, 2014 - 12:23

    Perhaps you should get the Town to speed up the necessary permits for Open Arms so that people have a place to go.

    • concerned Kentvillian
      June 18, 2014 - 18:40

      Don't hold your breath on that one Barbra. There was also the 'Housing First ' initiative last year to help some of these unfortunate people but the local bureaucrats took all the money and unfortunately those that the grants were issued to help got absolutely nothing ?

  • Jennifer Kirkey
    June 18, 2014 - 10:50

    Are the "loiterers" harassing people or vandalizing property or threatening the community? If they're doing any of those things, then they should be arrested and/or fined for breaking various laws. Otherwise, why is this a problem? Don't Kentville business owners have more important things to be worried about than whether I spent too much time standing on the sidewalk outside of the bank?

  • John Andrew
    June 18, 2014 - 10:12

    Anecdotal stories without names and details do not carry much weight. There were times forty years ago, however, when my mother held me close when shopping downtown Kentville - has it really changed so much? Thank you Mark Mander for pointing out the obvious prejudice that targets a certain segment of the population. If people are dressed a certain way, they are treated like garbage.

  • Gloria Malley
    June 18, 2014 - 10:09

    Being born and raised there , what a small minded town you are. People should have the right to come and go as they please, if they want to stand and check out traffic, get a coffee, socialize with others, or walk the square 20 times they can. Stop worrying about the ones you see and worry about the ones you don't . You only antagonize the young people which leads to other issues. We all wandered the town square growing up everyday and hung out and wow we all managed to become teachers, doctors , etc. Don't sweat the small stuff and stop dictating to the people, I'm positive you have more important things going on in the town

  • Brent O'Connor
    June 18, 2014 - 09:38

    Chief Mander's comments about downtown being many people's back yard is correct. If you are unemployed or on disability and live near the core of town, there is no place to simply spend time. Kentville council needs to come to terms with the fact that we are the hub of social services in the area, and that people who access those services are citizens too. They deserve the support of council. Their landlords provide them with no access to green spaces, and no ability to gather socially, yet they take the rent money. Council needs to reinvest the taxes paid by these landlords into infrastructure to support the many renters who are citizens on Kentville just like the rest of us.