© Wendy Elliott - Kingscountynews.ca
A lone commissionaire stands on duty outside the TD Canada Trust building on Webster Street in Kentville to deter loiterers.
He’s 25, but he looks younger. The lone loiterer leaning against Lawton’s Drugs on Main Street has encountered law enforcement before.
“The commissionaire and the police, yeah, they threatened me with jail.”
On a sunny weekday afternoon, there is no sign Kentville has a loitering problem. That same day, however, Mayor David Corkum called on the town’s police service to target downtown loiterers.
Deputy Mayor Mark Pearl read a letter on June 24 to the police commission asking police to enforce Kentville’s existing bylaws around smoke-free places, idle-free parking and animal control.
The mayor’s letter stated that public awareness campaigns have not worked and fears about community safety and business retention seem to have reached a high point.
Corkum said that while “council and senior staff appreciate diversity, peace and good order. Related to the issue, balance must be found. The correct balance is not being applied.”
Police commission chair Coun. Nola Folker-Hill responded by asking Pearl if the mayor was giving operational direction.
Pearl said that Corkum was not directing the police to take action, but voicing “concerns, asking staff to take corrective action any way they see fit, as long as the goal is accomplished.”
Police Chief Mark Mander said the town should engage in gathering a community, social-economic and holistic perspective on the issue, “not just an enforcement strategy. Why fine people who cannot afford fines?”
The chief said he would prefer examine ”all the components together. Going back to the 1880s, this has been going on, and it calls for a multifaceted approach.”