The City of Calgary is taking a stand against street harassment with bylaw amendment going into effect June 1
Beginning June 1, 2022, the amended Public Behaviour Bylaw 54M2006, which restricts harassment of another person in a public space, goes into effect. The amended bylaw is one of several actions The City of Calgary is taking to support victims and deter the negative behaviour; making it clear that street harassment will not be tolerated in Calgary.
Calgarians will now be able to report personally experienced or witnessed instances of street harassment in public spaces for investigation. An offence of the bylaw carries a fine of $500.
“The City of Calgary is taking a holistic approach to end street harassment, with measures that use collaboration, education, and enforcement to regulate behaviour that infringes on Calgarians’ ability to enjoy public spaces and feel safe in communities,” said Aalika Kohli, Business Strategist, Calgary Community Standards.
In addition to the bylaw, The City of Calgary is pursuing membership with the UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Program, a global initiative that bolsters cities’ ability to address the issue of harassment. More information will be made available soon.
Efforts to increase public awareness are also underway, including an advertising campaign encouraging Calgarians to be aware of their own safety and the safety of others, this summer.
How the bylaw works
In the bylaw, to ‘harass’ is defined as:
Communicating with a person in a manner that could reasonably cause offence or humiliation, including conduct, comment, or actions that refers to the person’s:
· race/colour/ancestry/place of origin
· religious beliefs
· marital status
· source of income
· family status
· gender/gender identity/gender expression
· sexual orientation;
and includes a sexual solicitation or advance.
Enforceable in public spaces
The bylaw applies to any instance of harassment behaviour that occurs within spaces that the public has access to in Calgary. This includes businesses such as restaurants, on sidewalks, in libraries, etc.
Infractions carry a higher fine of $500, which is meant to act as a deterrent of the behaviour.
“Every report and potential violation of this bylaw will be approached seriously and investigated,” said Ryan Pleckaitis, Chief Bylaw Officer, Calgary Community Standards.
How to report
Beginning June 1, 2022 incidents of street harassment can be reported through the Calgary Police Services non-emergency line at 403-268-1234, by calling 311 or creating a 311 service request online.
Those reporting incidents will be asked to share the nature of concern, description of the offender and the location of incident, in addition to as many details they feel comfortable providing that will support the investigation.
On December 15, 2020, Calgary City Council passed a Notice of Motion to address street harassment in Calgary and to understand the adverse impact it has on victims. There are no current provincial laws against Street Harassment in Alberta. The City of Calgary has a responsibility to support the well-being, comfort, and safety of Calgarians in public spaces.
More information is available at Calgary.ca/streetharassment.