Nova Scotia

Discussion group leaves over Occupy N.S. rejection

A community discussion group is looking for a new meeting place after being chastised for inviting someone from Occupy Nova Scotia to speak at their old spot.

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  • Dalrymple says he wanted to avoid any controversy

A community discussion group is looking for a new meeting place after being chastised for inviting someone from Occupy Nova Scotia to speak at their old spot.

The municipal councillor for the area, Barry Dalrymple, doesn't want anyone from Occupy NS speaking at the LWF Community Hall in Fall River, where Sheila Barling and her group have been meeting for two years.

Barling said the councillor is limiting free speech, but the group has agreed to find a new meeting place.

"I know he's misguided in thinking that he's protecting his community, because we wouldn't let anything awful happen. I mean, that's not what we're about. We're just inquiring minds wanting to learn," she told CBC on Monday.

Barling and the other members call themselves the Discussion Group. The board of the hall was allowing them to bring in guest speakers and use the facility free of charge.

Wanted to avoid controversy

Dalrymple, a member of the board, emailed the group Friday saying he didn't want to give Occupy Nova Scotia demonstrators the idea of "occupying" the hall. He said the discussion group didn't get permission for such an event.

He said he spoke against the discussion due to the risk of a controversy arising from having the Occupy N.S. speaker invited to the hall.

"We started granting them these meetings for free a number of months ago. Many of the topics did involve community topics, community things," he said Monday.

Coun. Barry Dalrymple says he doesn't want an Occupy N.S. speaker at the community centre. (CBC)
"Unfortunately this meeting, in my opinion, does not meet any particular community role. It doesn't meet the hall board's main mandate, which is community events. At the end of the day the board was totally disrespected in not even being asked, knowing full well it is a controversial item."  

Dalrymple said the board was not usually consulted about the topics of the discussions, but should have been in this case. He said the group was free to meet elsewhere.

"There is no real community function here," he said. "I'm not interested in furthering the conversation."  

Dalrymple said he was writing as a member of the volunteer board, not as a councillor.

Demonstrators with Occupy Nova Scotia camped in Grand Parade from Oct. 15 to Nov. 6, when they voluntarily moved to Victoria Park to make way for Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Halifax regional council discussed the municipality's no-camping bylaw in a private meeting on Nov. 8. A few days later, on Nov. 11, police enforced the eviction order and arrested 14 people.

Seven people filed formal complaints against the Halifax police department last week.

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