New bylaw ensures safe access to recreation facilities and libraries

City Council today passed the Safe & Inclusive Access bylaw.

The City is committed to ensuring that all Calgarians who wish to access public services and facilities are not being exposed to messaging or behaviour that is hateful, intimidates, harasses, or discriminates.

While demonstrations are still permitted, the bylaw will limit time, manner and location of specified protests within the vicinity of recreation facilities and libraries. This will create ‘access zones’ to ensure all Calgarians can safely access public facilities.

Specifically the bylaw:

-      Prohibits specified protests inside a City-operated recreation facility (or other designated facility) or within 100 metres of an entrance to, a City-operated recreation facility (or other designated facility) or library. This applies during operational hours and one hour before and after.

Specified protests are those objecting to an idea or action related to human rights; these include race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation.

-       Prohibits attempts to block access for others to enter or exit a recreation facility or library.

The bylaw aims to strike a balance between respecting the right to protest and The City providing safe and inclusive access to public services.

Council will revisit the bylaw in one month’s time to determine the impact on the community and put forth any recommendations.

Council also passed an amendment to the term “harassment” under its existing Public Behaviour (street harassment) bylaw. The term will now explicitly include “intimidation”.

All Calgarians must be able to equally enjoy the benefits and resources offered at or through public facilities, regardless of gender, socio-economic status, age, ability, religion, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or heritage.  Inclusive public spaces that support diversity attract business, contribute to a thriving economy and to a prosperous city.

With our partners at Calgary Police Service, we will continue to ensure harassment of others, or violations of excessive noise or other Bylaw offences, are monitored, investigated and enforced. This can include us enforcing at the time of an offence, during an event, or in many cases, after the fact.