Concerned citizen speaks out against graphic protest signs
City Council Briefs: From the Aug. 15 meeting
A concerned citizen attended the Aug. 15 City council meeting to ask the mayor and aldermen what can be done to prevent protesters from demonstrating with graphic photos.
On Aug. 11, the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform held an anti-abortion demonstration in downtown Airdrie just outside of City Hall.
“I’m not here to debate whether abortion is good or bad,” said Kevin Hughes.
“It’s about human decency, the ability to walk down the street without seeing graphic and disturbing images.”
Hughes said his 15-year-old daughter and her friend were on their way to work on Aug. 11 when the protesters “shoved the graphic, blown-up photos of aborted fetuses in their faces.”
He said he talked to the RCMP but they were unable to take action so he wanted to bring it forward to council to see what the City could do.
“I know this was brought forward before but nothing has been done,” said Hughes.
The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform also demonstrated June 20 at the corner of Centre Avenue and Main Street. Airdrie resident Carolynn Olsen brought the issue to council on July 4 after her seven-year-old daughter was upset by the photos.
Mayor Peter Brown said City staff is looking into other municipalities’ bylaws on protestors.
“None of them have responded to us yet and we are also getting legal advice,” he said.
“Under the Canadian Charter, we are not sure we have the right to stifle their freedom of expression.”
City manager Paul Schulz said staff is looking into what municipalities’ role could be.
“This goes all the way to freedom of speech,” he said.
“We are looking into the possibility of having protesters register with us so we can inform people and have them avoid the areas. We are trying to establish our role legally.”
Hughes said he doesn’t think Airdronians should have to avoid areas in their town.
“We don’t want our kids seeing this,” he said. “Where do we draw the line?”
City clerk Sharon Pollyck said if a new bylaw must be created, it could take up to a month for that to come forward to council.
Airdrie property values are holding their own compared to other municipalities in Alberta.
Airdrie experienced an equalized assessment decrease of 1.82 per cent compared to an overall average decrease for all Alberta cities of 8.96 per cent.
Only Brooks, Cold Lake, Leduc and Red Deer’s assessments increased.
The largest increase was Cold Lake at 4.08 per cent and the largest decrease was Calgary at 10.51 per cent.
“Airdrie’s market values continued to decrease in the summer of 2009, despite a parcel count increase of 9.8 per cent,” said Suzette DeMott, manager of assessment, taxation and utilities.
DeMott attributes Airdrie’s small decrease in property values to this parcel growth.
“The jurisdictions along the Calgary/Edmonton corridor generally has a higher parcel growth than other areas within the province,” she added.
The overall average decrease in equalized assessment of Airdrie and surrounding areas is 9.51 per cent. Excluding Calgary, the average decrease is 5.29 per cent. The average decrease across Alberta is 6.45 per cent.