Council wants to repeal loitering bylaw

Allows for lingering in public spaces

Bridgewater residents should soon be free to stop, chat and sit on benches in town.

On April 13, council took the first step towards repealing its loitering bylaw.

“The existing bylaw prohibits loitering in a wide range of public and private spaces, and the definition of loitering is extremely broad. It includes lurking, wandering, standing, remaining idle either alone or in concert with others – basically being in a public space at all unless you’re on your way somewhere else,” said Jamy-Ellen Klenavic, the town planner working on ways to encourage people to use the town’s open public spaces.

She mentioned the benefits of street culture include a happier community, less crime and other social problems, positive psychological well-being, social cohesion and a sense of place or attachment to the community.

“The existing bylaw is not enforced by the Bridgewater Police department. Instead it relies on the provincial Protection of Property Act, which would still apply if the town decided to repeal the bylaw,” she said.

This was the motion’s first reading. A public hearing and a date for a second reading have not been set.

A related topic is a potential bylaw concerning vending on public property. This is also part of the intitiative to get people into the downtown area. The proposed bylaw considers zones along King Street and several recreational fields around town as areas where vendors could sell their food or goods.

Council directed staff to prepare the final draft of a vending bylaw with additional input and requests made by council.

“I think it’s worth investigating and going down the road,” said Councillor Jennifer McDonald, who moved the motion. “It provides opportunity for small businesses and can draw crowds into an area we need to see vibrancy in.”

As originally published in LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin

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