Criminal lawn-sitter | The Coast Halifax

Criminal lawn-sitter

Writer already misses Amsterdam, where being on the grass is the norm.

To the editor,

When I return home from travelling, I find myself feeling bittersweet. The usual shift from adventure to work, routines, bills, blah. This time seemed different---I came home from a vacation in Amsterdam to a sunny day in Halifax. People were on the streets, shops had their doors open, bodies were actually sitting in our public spaces! Sunny days in Halifax make me feel like I am somewhere extraordinary. Who wouldn't want to be part of this culture?

While in Europe, I spent much time drinking wine and relaxing in parks, for having a drink in public is not a criminal offence, but a casual, respectful norm. Keeping with this routine, I visited the Public Gardens (sans wine, of course), sitting near the pond (on the grass) with my sketch book open. Less than five minutes passed when a park official drove by (In a park! Drove! A smelly, noisy vehicle!) and told me to get off the grass.

I wanted to ask why, but I know this is policy. But still, why? I would be much happier in my city if people had the freedom to sit in a park on the grass and let worries of the day melt away. I continued to the Common to the fountain. Just like the fountain in Victoria Park, it is surrounded by a tall steel fence and high voltage signs.

Can Halifax not provide a park with grass that can handle a seated bum, and a water feature that does not risk electrical shock?

What messages are we sending our residents and visitors? "Come see beautiful Halifax! Visit our parks...but don't think for a second that you can sit on our grass and, for your own safety, stay away from the fountains!"

I'm already missing Amsterdam, where being on the grass is the norm.

---Rachel Derrah, Halifax