October 28, 2011 – Since my statement of last week, little has changed in my views regarding the demonstrations for the group called Occupy Calgary.
I have indicated publically over the course of these demonstrations that each citizen has the right to free speech and assembly, and that does include demonstrating at Olympic Plaza, or any other public space.
I have also indicated that, as the City of Calgary has allowed the group the use of space at St. Patrick’s Island, and not at Olympic Plaza, they should vacate the plaza and return to the agreed upon location.
I feel that the tents should be removed as soon as possible. I have no issue of anyone using Olympic Plaza to demonstrate their issues as many have done over the years; during the day.
However, at night, this group of demonstrators becomes a group of people living on public land.
The City of Calgary is incurring costs as a result of demonstrations at Olympic Plaza, an area that is not suited for the type of footprint that is being left by the demonstrators..
The purpose of allowing the group to occupy St. Patrick’s Island is due to the fact that is and that is better suited to accommodate the tents and would not incur the same level of damage and maintenance than that of Olympic Plaza.
I am actively looking into what can be done to resolve this issue. As one Alderman out of 15 I am investigating the best way to act on behalf of the constituents of Ward 12 who have expressed concern on this issue and how it affecting their enjoyment of Olympic Plaza.
Original statement posted on October 17th, 2011
October 17, 2011 – My office has received several calls regarding the Occupy Calgary demonstrations taking place in Calgary.
The essential make up of this demonstration is to occupy space to voice their concerns. The City has been quite reasonable in allowing this group of citizens to practice their free speech rights by providing space and very basic amenities at Saint Patrick’s Island.
While the city is honouring the rights of the demonstrators to assemble and express, it should be incumbent on them to also honour the rights of all citizens who wish to benefit from Olympic Plaza, a hallmark and central attraction to all Calgarians.
Many have asked, “Does this set precedence for other demonstrations to occupy public land for various causes?”
This particular social initiative is one that is prevalent in many major North American cities at the moment. Their apparent basis of demonstration is to occupy space in economic districts to comment on various socio-economic issues.
As I have been told, this is a unique scenario, and like any other demonstrations to follow, will be reviewed case by case.
The City, Bylaw Department, CEMA and Calgary Police Service are fully aware of Occupy Calgary’s direct relationship to similar demonstrations occurring throughout the country, and, in the best interest of its citizens are working closely with the demonstrators to ensure that those taking part in Occupy Calgary, and all of the residents of Calgary, are safe and healthy.