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The Hamilton Spectator - 2021-09-15

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Fake nudes: ‘Clothing optional’ sign a hoax

LOCAL

JON WELLS THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR Jon Wells is a Hamilton-based reporter and feature writer for The Spectator. Reach him via email: jwells@thespec.com

Depending on your perspective it was either an entertaining or shiver-inducing beach read. It was the official-looking sign Saturday that declared: “Welcome to Hamilton Beach. This is a clothing optional beach 250 (metres) between this point and shoreline,” and cited a City of Hamilton bylaw number mandating the stark statute. A picture was posted to social media of the sign attached to the base of a power line tower, along with a man in a bathrobe and floppy hat whose face is not visible. The legality of the sign is not in question: it is a phoney, a hoax, fake nude news. But exactly who put it there, and why, seems a mystery. The picture was posted Saturday on the Hamilton Beach Community Facebook page by Mark Wessman. The man in the robe, Wessman wrote, is a man named Preston Malick, who he said helped “create” a clothing optional beach in Toronto. Malick could not be reached for comment, and it’s not clear where he lives. In a comment on the social media post, Malick claims he was at Hamilton’s beach Saturday with three friends, and none of them were wearing “a stitch” of clothing. Ward 5 city councillor Chad Collins told The Spec he received a “frantic” call of concern from a resident who had seen a picture of the sign. “I could tell from how the sign was written it was fake,” he said. “But it would look professional to the average person walking by.” Collins said it was quickly removed by city staff and bylaw officials are investigating. He said posting fake city signs cannot be tolerated, and “depending on the activity, (a misleading sign) could present a health and safety risk.” Ward 4 councillor Sam Merulla told The Spec that “on the surface” the prank “may seem harmless but there can also be a nefarious aspect to it.” Collins said no one has ever lobbied him to permit a clothing-optional section, adding that it would never make sense given the proximity to a residential community, and that more than 100,000 people visit the nearby Waterfront Trail each year.

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