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

Wendy Elliott welliott@kingscountynews.ca
Published on June 18, 2014

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

©Wendy Elliott - kingscountynews.ca

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.