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With Covid restrictions gone, what’s next for Calgary protesters, asks Coun. Walcott

With few provincial public health restrictions remaining, Ward 8 Coun. Courtney Walcott wonders if there will be a protest through the Beltline this Saturday.

If so, he wonders further what the motivation is now.

Protesters have been clogging Beltline streets throughout the pandemic, forcing many to rethink outdoor plans on those days.  Late last month, Walcott encouraged area residents and businesses to file a complaint with Calgary 311 when protests happened.  

Numbers spiked.

This past weekend, there was another Beltline protest. Calgary 311 numbers spiked again, according to City of Calgary open data. This one included a counter-protest. A smoke bomb was set off.

“I think what we've all seen is that the freedom convoy and much of the freedom protests, the purpose is unclear,” Walcott told LiveWire Calgary.

“It's changing. I mean, today, for example, is the end of the restrictions in Alberta as a whole, so if there is one on Saturday, what's it for?”

Still, Walcott was happy to see continued calls to 311 to log the activity. He said everyone is exhausted from Covid-19, particularly with the protests and the longevity of them.  When that happens, you don’t always follow through with the processes that lead to the outcomes you want, he said.

Walcott said when Edmonton got their injunction against the protests, people asked him why they couldn’t do it in Calgary.

“We didn't have the collected, official kind of venues-being-used for evidence submission,” he said.

Now their voices are being heard through 311, he said.

“What the solution will be that is honestly to be determined, but at least we don't have to just say that these are anecdotal stories. We have the documentation,” Walcott said.

Regular updates from CPS, police commission

The weekend protest in the Beltline was a topic of conversation for councillors during a closed-session strategic meeting of councillors on Monday.  The addition of the briefing was brought up by Coun. Walcott and it passed 12-3. Couns. Andre Chabot, Sean Chu and Dan McLean voted against it.

After they emerged, council unanimously approved a trio of items, including Calgary police and police commission providing regular briefings to council. That would include a closed session at the March 8 meeting.

Walcott said there’s a limit in the connectivity between different organizations involved in the handling of protests. Past protests have been sporadic, he said, never this sustained. It made sense for them to get together for regular briefings.

It was a chance to improve comms with enforcement teams, with councillors and with citizens.

“You don't want to just look at this as a one-off, that would be a missed opportunity,” he said.