Just yesterday Mayor Nenshi outright told “occupiers” that camping in Olympic Plaza is illegal. While it is good to see that Mayor Nenshi has acknowledged that the activity of these squatters is breaking our laws, it appears that there still is no will on the part of city hall to enforce our laws. Can we get out of compliance with city bylaws simply by claiming that we are expressing ourselves for some vague cause? I don’t think so.
Here is a court ruling from 1994. People tried to camp on Parliament Hill in order to protest and claimed it was protected by the charter. It was ruled that camping in parks is not a Charter protected form of expression twice.
We can all rest assured that the City of Calgary will enforce the law if we do not clear the snow from our sidewalks, park illegally or ride the train without paying. Why is an exception being made for a small group of squatters who have caused thousands of dollars in damage to Olympic Plaza while disrupting legitimately booked events?
Mayor Nenshi and city hall are hoping that our Calgary weather will do their job for them. This is a cowardly approach to their responsibility as guardians of our public property and we as citizens need to speak up when our elected officials shy away from their jobs. Even if a cold snap disperses the “occupiers”, how can we be assured that somebody will not simply set up camp again when the weather breaks? Some of these “occupiers” are on the extreme end of things and may stay out there in any weather. Could we be legally on the hook if an “occupier” gets frostbite or worse while camping in our park?
We need to speak up. Call 311 to register a complaint with city hall. Please register your support on the petition linked below as well. We can have our park cleaned up if we speak up and make our elected officials address this ongoing issue.