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Street harassment bylaw work approved by Calgary city council

Calgary city councillors unanimously supported work on a bylaw that would curb street harassment in the city.

The notice of motion, put forth by Coun. Druh Farrell, asked city administration to explore the creation of a “constitutionally defensible bylaw” that addresses gaps with respect to street harassment, particularly for groups at greater risk.

“Street harassment of women and girls is one of many types of gender based violence,” Coun. Farrell said.  

“This type of violence manifests in physical, sexual and psychological forms and include sexual violence and harassment.”

Coun. Farrell said that she’s heard many personal accounts from women about their experience with street harassment since this motion was put forward.

“This clearly illustrates that this is a problem we can no longer ignore,” she said.

“Every Calgarian regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, has the right to feel safe.”

She received the support of fellow Coun. Jyoti Gondek.

“Council, I know it’s easy to sometimes dismiss motions like this and to say, ‘you know, what’s the big deal, somebody whistled at you take it as a compliment, it’s really not a big problem,” she said.

“That is not what we’re talking about here, we are talking about the safety of women and girls in our city. We’re talking about their ability to fully participate in our city and not feel threatened.”

Coun. Ward Sutherland also supported the motion. He did question how we’d determine the harassment. Further, he asked how would that compare with something that would hold up in court.

Administration said further research would be required.

The work will not come back to Calgary city council until the first quarter of 2022, when the next city council will deal with a potential bylaw.