Simm Helps Protect Skinnydippers from Unlawful Police Harassment


After Peter A. Simm led the successful campaign to convince Toronto City Council to create the official clothing-optional zone at Hanlan's Point Beach on Toronto Island, the zone opened in May 1999. Bizarrely, on June 13th, a few police officers started ordering skinnydippers out of the water and warning that they could be charged under a 1934 Toronto Harbour Commissioners by-law regulating swimming attire.

The police were trying to create a patently absurd situation: although people were allowed to sunbathe nude on dry sand at the zone's beach, they were forbidden from dipping a toe in the water without first donning a swimsuit. Was this due to a horror of Seinfeldian “shrinkage”, or was it something else?

Whatever their motivation, the officers had failed to do their homework. The by-law they cited no longer legally existed, as the entity which issued it had already been statutorily abolished, and there was no provision deeming the by-law to have been adopted by the new Toronto Port Authority. Simm faxed a letter to the City's solicitor explaining this, and urging her to rein in the police. She did so, and police then told the Toronto Star (in an article published June 16th) that they were no longer seeking to enforce the defunct by-law.

Meanwhile, the absurdity of the police action was mocked in media reports and editorial cartoons. Below are 11 sample reports, including 6 international.


International news wire service

International news wire service