Bylaw to restrict signage in areas of Calgary up for debate
CALGARY -- City council is expected to meet Monday to discuss a proposed bylaw that would limit groups, such as anti-abortion advocates, from posting their views on public streets near schools.
The bylaw aims to ban all messaging on large signs placed within 150 metres of schools during school hours.
The legislation came about after an incident in March 2019, where students who attended Queen Elizabeth High School confronted a member of an anti-abortion group.
It also became an issue during the last provincial election, when then-Alberta Party candidate Angela Kokott proposed a 50-metre safe zone for schools.
Soon afterwards, Ward 7 councillor Druh Farrell got on board with the idea to include schools under the same legislation that protects Alberta's two non-hospital abortion clinics.
City staff said demonstrations like the one at Queen Elizabeth High School have had negative and serious impacts on vulnerable students and they need to stop.
Those opposed to the bylaw are concerned it will infringe on free speech and call it an attempt by the city to censor them.
"We’re not reaching out to elementary schools or even middle schools," said Cameron Cote with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform. "We’re reaching out to senior high schools, with conversations about an important issue often they’re not hearing about in schools."
"This is going to absolutely prevent us from engaging the vast majority of mature students in Calgary."
Council is expected to vote on the bylaw on Monday.
If it passes, anyone who breaks the rules will be fined anywhere between $500 and $1,000.