Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday May 8, 1999
What Next? Buff Beach Bid Before Aldermen Sun Worshippers Seek City Blessing
Michael Baldasaro and Walter Tucker provide a peek at what’s in store if Hamilton grants their bid for a clothing-optional beach.Dateline: Text: Hamilton has had a bad case of Toronto-envy for years, but is it worth baring all at the beach to keep up with the megacity down the highway?It’s a question that may get more than a passing glance in the next few weeks as city council members try to deal — straight-faced — with an unusual request from an unusual duo.
Walter Tucker and Michael Baldasaro, pot-smoking, self-proclaimed ministers in t he Church of the Universe and seekers of the decriminalization of marijuana, want the city to designate a clothing-optional beach at Bayfront Park.
We’re talking naked sun-worshippers here.
The law says women are free to go topless outdoors in Ontario, but the idea of a nude beach is pretty strong stuff in Hamilton, where women may not swim topless or breastfeed in city-owned swimming pools.
“This is not a sexual thing, it’s just a natural thing, ” said Baldasaro, a past mayoral candidate who has served a total of about two years in jail for various marijuana-related convictions. “Lots of families like to do it together. We’re family people.”
Tucker points to a changes in Toronto as support for the duo’s quest for hassle-free nude sunbathing.
“People in Toronto have officially been recognized and provided the right to have a place to sunbathe without those strap-marks, which are gross indications of being ashamed of your body, ” he said. “We want that same right, without curiosity seekers and people trying to take pictures.”
Ward 3 Alderman Bernie Morelli, who chairs the city’s parks and recreation committee, says the Toronto connection is a bit of a stretch.
“We’re not the same as Toronto, nor do we want to be, ” he said. “It’s my personal view there is no such public beach required in this community at this time.”
Bayfront Park is in Ward 2 and both ward aldermen don’t see nude sunbathing coming to a beach near you.
“It’s obviously not going to happen — anyone can ask for anything they want, but it doesn’t mean they’ll get it, ” Corsini said bluntly. “It’s a most inappropriate spot for nude sunbathing. This is a family park.”
Wardmate Andrea Horwath isn’t sure what kind of public support there may — or may not — be for a nude beach.
“This has never come up before and the current situation may be a way of finding out what the public perception is in our community, ” she said. “Other Canadian cities have designated areas but I’m not sure it’s appropriate in Hamilton.” (Source: Hamilton Spectator)