Moncton residents are debating some architectural design elements along city streets that are intended to be so uncomfortable that it discourages people from loitering or sleeping in the area.
Decorative objects, such as posts, rivets and fences, can be found along Moncton streets and are designed to stop people from sitting on windowsills or laying on flowerbeds.
These design elements are not uncommon. In Montreal last month, anti-loitering spikes were installed with the intention of deterring people from sitting on a ledge along a sidewalk.
The controversial spikes were removed after Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre called them a “disgrace” and promised they would be taken away.
Some people refer to these posts, or spikes or fences as anti-homeless design or hostile architecture.
Ronnie LeBlanc spends a lot of his time in downtown Moncton and he said he feels these loitering deterrents are unfair.
“We’re not harming anyone sitting up there. We’re just sitting right? We’re having a coffee or a cigarette, or whatever. That’s it,” LeBlanc said.
“It’s better than sitting right in the middle. Look at the bank over there with all these posts you can’t sit on at all. It’s not very fair.”
Sue Calhoun, a community development officer with the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee, said posts and similar structures are unwelcoming.
“I remember when these posts were mounted a few years ago and people did sit on them and it wasn’t very long before people put up these decorative spikes,” she said.
“They’re very well done, they’re very decorative, I’m sure a lot of people don’t understand that the purpose of them is to stop people from sitting down.”
Much of this type of architecture in Moncton is found on private buildings, while benches and other public spaces remain open to everyone.
Jonathan Chickie said he doesn’t like the message these architectural designs send about Moncton.
“They seem a little cruel and a little cold and I know I heard about some elements in Montreal recently that were proposed and were even installed and removed,” he said.
However, other residents say they are not bothered by the fences and posts that have cropped up around the city.
Cameron Maxwell said he feels these measures are good for the community.
“I don’t think it’s that bad of a thing, I think, keeping the city looking good is pretty good,” Maxwell said.
“I’ve noticed we’ve got more issues with trying to keep the city tidy and more kids hanging out on the street all the time. So, It’s not like there aren’t places for them to go hang out, it doesn’t have to be right in front of a store.”
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