This embarrassing and expensive scene has gone on long enough. A small collection of squatters has been camped in our taxfunded park illegally for weeks now and the damages and costs are beginning to mount up. These kids have done an estimated $40,000 in damage alone to our park and the costs will only rise.
The Muslim Heritage day event which was booked and paid for in good faith will now have to hold their event in a dirty park (cant maintain and clean properly with squatters camping) and they will have less space than anticipated due to these tenters. Another group that had booked the plaza for Monday is now seeking a new location as will another group that is booked for Wednesday if we do not kick these kids out of our park.
Olympic Plaza was never designed for camping and due to that the damages are mounting up fast. Costs for extra policing and additional maintenance are building up. How many thousands of dollars will have to be refunded to the legitimate groups that have booked and paid for the plaza that will have to relocated due to the city allowing illegal squatting in our park?
This is a sad and expensive joke and is an embarrassment to our city. There is NO reason that we can’t evict these squatters from our park. There is a hollow and weak case being made that these squatters are protected by the Canadian Charter in this. That again is simply a load of BS. Speech is protected as is expression. Both speech and expression are possible without illegally camping in a downtown park. No rights are being repressed through evicting these kids.
If indeed that cowardly excuse of possible charter issues is valid, then I suggest that none of us in the entire city of Calgary need abide by bylaws ever again. The “occupy” group has never really explained exactly what they are protesting. I guess those of us who ignore other bylaws will not need a real reason for our protest either. If I refuse to licence my dog, I have a charter defense in it. I need only say “I don’t like social inequity and I am not licencing in protest”. By city council logic I am covered by the charter. Can I use this defense if I don’t pay parking tickets? Can I occupy a free seat on the C-Train in protest and make a charter challenge if I get a ticket?
Storage is expensive. I suggest that people should park their RVs and fifth-wheels in Calgary parks. Heck you can even camp there when you please. Dig a firepit for yourself. Vandalize the local bathrooms and displace other people using the park. It is OK. Just claim some vapid complaint about the way the world is and claim your action is your means of expression.
Is it becoming clear yet why making an exception in our bylaws for this gang of camping kids is a big deal? To most people it is something of a no-brainer.
Our city council is hiding in collective fear of the potentially poor optics that may happen if we actually enforce the law and kick these kids from the park. We need to take away their excuses. The fear of a charter challenge is utter BS as demonstrated above. I don’t think we really need to sweat a bunch of ragtag hipsters organizing and taking the city to court on a charter challenge anyway. That is simply way too much work for them. There is no charter right for squatting.
Another common dodge used by city councilors is claiming that there have been few complaints. From what I heard from the person on the other end of a 311 call, there have been many complaints already. Still, we need to ramp up the complaints.
Don’t let our city officials hide on this issue and lets not let these squatters cost the taxpayers any more than they already have!!
We must register our complaints and it must spread. Below are the means to contact city hall and your councilors. Use them and spread the word to neighbors and coworkers who are tired of this. Clearly city hall won’t move without some heavy prodding on this issue.
To begin with, simply call 311. There is an option for bylaw complaints. While on a coffee break give the number a dial and make a formal complaint of people camping after-hours in Olympic Plaza.
Contacting the aldermen themselves is effective as well. They do try to hide direct contact information when possible. The beginnings of contact information for aldermen can be found here and here though.
On twitter many of our aldermen follow the #yyccc hashtag. Tweet them directly if you are on and demand that our park be cleaned up. Some but not all of our city council is on twitter. Their twitter handles are below.
@nenshi @yycgael @councilorkeats @pootmans @aldjonmar @bpincott @bigredyyc @peterdemong @druhfarrell
This issue will not go away until we as citizens make it go away. We can’t let city hall bury their heads on this while countless thousands of dollars are wasted, our park gets further damaged and innocent groups get displaced from events booked and paid for in good faith. Email tweet and call whoever you can on this folks. It has to come to an end and soon.