Over the past month, Calgary’s Safe and Inclusive Access Bylaw saw six violations handed out, with most protesters respecting the 100-metre boundary.
Last month, city council approved a bylaw that created a perimeter around libraries and recreation centres to allow for the safe entry of those spaces, while still allowing protests.
As a part of that approval was the recommendation to come back after a month to provide a progress report. That update is coming to Calgary’s regular meeting of council on April 25.
The bylaw was expedited after a handful of incidents at city facilities, including one that required the removal of a person protesting at a Reading with Royalty drag reading event.
“The Bylaw, coupled with increased presence of police and community peace officers, has led to an increased sense of safety and reduced levels of anxiety in staff,” read a city administration report.
The city said protests continue at Reading with Royalty events but have dropped from a forecast of three per week to just one.
According to the report, attendance at the Calgary libraries has remained consistent.
During this time, the city also conducted engagement after the bylaw was enacted. Over six days, an online survey done by 460 members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community shows that 32 per cent of participants reported feeling safer. Sixty-two per cent didn’t feel any different about their level of safety.
Further, 600 comments were provided via open-text questions and the city included one particular comment: “I can take my child to the library or other city facilities and not worry (as much) that someone will be screaming vitriol at us as we come and go or participate in events that are important and meaningful to our family.”
Some comments said the bylaw has had no impact (yet).
Bylaw success thus far, says Councillor
Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner, one of the bylaw’s champions, said she believed the results show the bylaw is having an impact.
Penner said that the preliminary data shows that people are respecting the bylaw rules and it’s impacted the number of protests.
“I’m glad to see that the preliminary results of this short period of time, essentially indicate that the bylaw is working as intended,” she said.
Coun. Penner said they’ve received verbal high fives from councillors and other officials from across Canada. Though, she’s unsure if other municipalities have reached out to city admin for more information on the bylaw.
The number of people that indicated the bylaw has had no impact on their feeling of safety is a tough number to gauge, Penner said. They’d need to look into the context around that response; perhaps they were still feeling unsafe, maybe they’d never felt unsafe, or a combination depending on the location.
Right now, Coun. Penner doesn’t anticipate any change to the bylaw when it comes back to council on Tuesday.
“The goal was to provide safe access. The goal was to provide that zone where people could enter or leave a facility without being subjected to a specified protest,” she said.
“I think what this goes to show is that people understand they still have a right to protest, but they have to do so outside of that 100 meters.”