Calgary implements anti-street harassment bylaw
by Riggs Zyrille Vergara, Publishing Editor
Starting June 1, 2022, Calgarians are now able to report “personally experienced or witnessed instances of street harassment in public spaces” through the Calgary Police Services non-emergency line 403-268-1234, by calling 311 or creating a 311 service request online.
The bylaw called the Street Harassment Amendment to Public Behaviour Bylaw 54M2006 defines harassment as “Communicating with a person in a manner that could reasonably cause offence or humiliation, including conduct, comment, or actions that refer to the person’s race/colour/ancestry/place of origin, religious beliefs, disability, age, marital status, source of income, family status, gender/gender identity/gender expression, sexual orientation and includes a sexual solicitation or advance.” Anyone found to have violated the bylaw will pay a fine of $500.
Any Calgarian can report harassment in any location within the city where there is public access including business establishments such as restaurants and cafes, on sidewalks, in libraries and more.
“The City of Calgary is taking a holistic approach to end street harassment, with measures that use collaboration, education, and enforcement to regulate behaviour that infringes on Calgarians’ ability to enjoy public spaces and feel safe in communities,” Aalika Kohli, Business Strategist of Calgary Community Standards said in a press release.
Calgarians who reported will be asked to share as much detail as they are comfortable which includes the nature of the concern, description of the offender and the location of the event.
“Every report and potential violation of this bylaw will be approached seriously and investigated,” said Ryan Pleckaitis, Chief Bylaw Officer of Calgary Community Standards said in the same press release
A survey from the city revealed that although street harassment impacts all Calgarians to a certain level, those who are female, racialized or Indigenous persons, people who wear clothing or symbols that indicate their religion and members of the LGBTQ2S+ community are disproportionately prone to street harassment.
The city of Calgary is also actively applying to be a member of the UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Program Global Initiative where the organization helps its member cities improve their ability to address public safety.