Calgary bylaw to crack down on protests at libraries and recreation centres

A new bylaw meant to crackdown on protests around libraries and recreation centres in the city, will be presented before Calgary City Council. Henna Saeed reports it comes in reaction to the several protests around the city against drag events.

A proposed Calgary bylaw intends to impose a fine of up to $10,000 and one year in prison for anyone involved in a hate-related protest around civic community facilities, recreation centres, and public libraries.

This comes after the city has seen several protests against drag shows over the past few weeks.

Calgary Councillor for Ward 11, Kourtney Penner, says the psychological and physical safety of Calgarians is at risk.

“It frustrates me that we have individuals who may believe something different, but act upon those beliefs in a way that is hurtful and harmful to others,” Penner said.

The proposed “Safe and Inclusive Access to Recreation Facilities and Libraries Bylaw” will be presented before city council on March 14, during the regular council meeting.

“This is really about striking that balance for that right to protest but also providing, what is and this is it’s a very much in the title of the bylaw, safe and inclusive access. So it is providing that zone, where people can enter and exit a facility free of intimidation, harassment, be that verbal or nonverbal,” Penner said.

The proposed bylaw prohibits a specified protest within 100 metres of the entrance to a recreation facility or library in the city.

Ward 7 City Councillor Terry Wong, says it’s a step in the right direction, but worries if it has the right potential to counter such protests.

“We’ve seen protests, for example, outdoor spaces … that was my point. … At what point do we delineate where public spaces, private gatherings are allowed? And the threats to society? … Are we inclusive in our bylaw?” asked Wong.

Wong says as an Asian Calgarian, he has seen and has also heard from the Chinatown community about anti-Asian sentiments. He says businesses there have seen many protest disturbances affecting their trade. He stresses there is a real need to protect Calgarians from these attacks.

Penner says pursuing this bylaw may inflame those already protesting, potentially saying it’s a further infringement on Charter rights. Thus, to safeguard the library and recreation centre staff in such situations, she says the enforcement of the proposed bylaw would be up to city bylaw officers, or the Calgary Police Service.


A public library’s Reading With Royalty event was supposed to take place last Saturday, but it was cancelled after the story time event was disrupted last week.

A hate-motivated charge was laid against Calgary pastor Derek Scott Reimer after the incident.

This incident prompted a large group of 2SLGBTQ+ counter-protestors to gather at Calgary City Hall last Saturday in response to ongoing protests around all age drag events in the city.

Initially, small groups of protestors voiced homophobic and transphobic sentiments, but they were outnumbered by the larger group of supporters.

“To see such hatred in our city, a city that I’m very proud to live in. I mean I won’t lie. It hurts, its hateful literally,” said Alyssa, who works at the library and participated in the protest.

— With files from Danina Falkenberg

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