Yesterday I drove down to Olympic Plaza to make a point and I made that point in spades. Mayor Nenshi claimed that the squatters in Olympic Plaza could not be charged under our city bylaws because they were protected by the Charter of Rights and they were expressing themselves. Nenshi also said that the city does not have the authority to move and arrest people simply based on bylaw infractions. I proved both of those statements utterly wrong in short order.
I did my research. I made sure to park my vehicle in a safe spot where there would be no damage to the park and even put a pan underneath as the truck leaks the odd drop of transmission fluid and I did not want to stain the pavement. I did make sure that I was breaking a bylaw under the same act as those tenting in the park.
I screwed a few signs to the box-liner of my truck with some random and purposely inane demands. I wanted my parallel to the “occupiers” to be as complete as possible. Many have been scratching their heads over the ever changing and increasingly bizarre laundry list of demands being made by the occupiers. It was pretty clear that for a person to be considered as expressing themselves in order to qualify for this apparent Charter protection that a rational goal or demand is not really required. I had my demands and it is not the place of law enforcement to consider whether these were valid demands or not.
Within half an hour bylaw enforcement officers confronted me and demanded that I leave the park. I politely refused to and said that I was exercising my charter right of expression. The officers took my drivers license and registration and went back to their vehicle. They returned to warn me again that I would be charged for a bylaw infraction if I remained. Again I refused to move. They returned to their truck for some period of time then where doubtless many phone calls were made.
Next a couple officers from the Calgary Police Service approached me. They repeated their request that I leave or be charged with bylaw violation. I again refused to leave and stated that I was excersizing my charter right of expression. This pattern continued in a repetitive way for some time as an increasing number of police and bylaw vehicles appeared on the site.
The police finally approached me after this had gone on for perhaps a couple hours to let me know that a towtruck was on the way and that I would have to leave my vehicle in order for it to be towed. I asked the officer to clearly tell me what would happen if I refused to leave my vehicle. He made it very clear that I would be forcibly removed and arrested if I did not leave my truck.
At this point I decided to leave my truck. I had made my point and saw no need to further force the hand of the police nor increase the number of fines that I was getting.
Again to summarize. The Charter of Rights does not prevent the city from enforcing bylaws in Olympic Plaza against protesters. The city of Calgary does have the means and authority to have protesters arrested and removed by force from Olympic Plaza.
Some have been trying to claim that my removal was due to safety reasons and such. That simply is not true or I would have been fined for such. I was fined for incorrectly parking in a park. Some may claim that the reason for the law against that sort of parking is based on safety. Well to that I counter that the law against tenting in the city parks has some basis in safety as well.
A fellow blogger who attended the event did a great summary on his blog and took an excellent photo to make a point.
One of the shots shows the sign in the park that very clearly states that habitation and camping within the park is against the city bylaws. There is even a graphic depiction of a tent with a line through it in case a person may be unable to read or not speak English. Another shot shows the tents illegally surrounding one of those signs.
Another item of note down there is that the squatters are settling in even more deeply for the winter. A larger structure has been added to their collection of tents and things such as wooden pallets are being piled up. This simply means more damage will be added to the already estimated $40,000 and I see a great deal more safety issues here as the sqatters either freeze body parts off or burn things to stay warm.
This farce has gone on long enough. Calgary city hall has allowed itself to be bullied by a collection of squatters and their bluff for non-enforcement has been called.
Do we have two sets of laws in Calgary? If the City of Calgary continues to refuse to enforce the laws on these squatters while they did not hesitate to charge myself I think that the answer is pretty clear.
Clearly Mr. Nenshi is enforcing a double standard. That is apalling. Whether people agree with you or not, the point is clear. Nenshi’s pompous press conference on Friday was shown to be, in fact, BS!
And I agree, truck or tent, matter is the same, you were not charged with a safety violation but a bylaw violation.
Bravo to you for having the fortitude to do more than talk and to attempt to make change
Unfortuntely, this is a situation where the occupiers willingness to get arrested works in their favor. If the cops rolled in, told them to remove their tents under the fear of arrest, they would willingly get arrested. Then the media show would start. Had you refused to vacate your truck and been arrested, you probably would have been on the front page of the Sun this morning as well as the evening news last night. Then Nenshi would have had a real issue to deal with.
For 99% of the planet, getting arrested is not a good thing. For this 1%, being arrested for civil disobdience is a badge of honor.
Anytime somebody is willing to put his money where is mouth is, one must admire his commitment to the deed.
Keep up the fight, Cory. You’re a dedicated citizen of Calgary.
Well done Cory,
By the time this is all over, I hope that those tickets are thrown out and you are refunded the cost of towing along with an apology. After all, we all heard the Mayor’s press conference in which he did another flip-flop and spewed a bunch of hot air about how you were allowed to break a city bylaw if you were exercising your charter rights to protest? And right after that, the city gave you not one but three tickets for doing just that? Sounds like entrapment to me. Just like if Nenshi announced that they were not enforcing speed limits on Deerfoot and then sent out police and photoradar to ticket people. I mean come on, three tickets? Was Nenshi hoping that he could recoup the cost of the occupy Calgary damage from you?
We need to start parking infront of Nenshi’s house (or mom’s house as the case may be). My sign is going to read “Wake up Nenshi… time for school”.
Cory, if you believe your rights were violated under the Charter then go ahead and take it to court against the City.
I take part of my statement back – I guess you can still get on front page of Sun without being arrested. Just saw on twitter that you’re there.
Well done Cory. I wished I knew you were going down there Sunday, I would have joined you. I emailed the mayor and told him he was more concerned with his image than taking a principled approach. He came into office with a big ego and the trips across the country having his back slapped along with big hugs from the CBC types has it out of control. But he’s not the only one. It’s reported four alderman voted against the removal and they should be held as responsible. I didn’t hear which four but that’ll come out soon enough. We can all imagine which ones though. I haven’t heard a peep from Druh Farrell since this started three weeks ago and this is in her ward.
Good job Cory….. Or good protest.. Give a heads up next time, would have been fun to try it in numbers.. And I can guarantee they couldn’t tow my redneck wreck away..
While you insist on making this a solely Calgary issue but recite how no relationship exists between prior court rulings involving Victoria and tent cities. Why not use Vancouver as an example and see how there really is a double standard against the Occupy movement compared to other protests. The Falun Gong protest has been ongoing since 2001. They protest on sidewalks, erect permanent wooden structures on city land, poster walls in anti-china propaganda, and hold multi person hunger strikes on city sidewalks. If the Occupy movement will do nothing for society how can an anti china protest in Vancouver change Chinese government treatment of its citizens. It was some 5 years or more before any mayor tried to stop this protest through bylaws. The protest challenged these bylaws and the court agreed that individual rights trumped one sided city bylaws. These structures stayed up for some 8 years before being taken down. If these occupy individuals feel they are performing a political protest then why should they be treated any differently? Why not grant these individuals some 8 years of protesting before taking down there tents. I do not necessarily support everything spouted out of the mouths of the occupy members but seriously what is evicting them and ticketing them, etc. going to accomplish? How often in your day are you seriously concerned about there well being or personally disrupted by there actions. As I drive around Edmonton and carry on with my life I have yet to even come across the protest. If you exerted half the energy you use to complain about your local government and driving down to a protest to promote a egoistic point towards promoting something positive in society perhaps there would be no protests. However I suppose every society needs an a$$ to beat down any sign of innocence no matter how misguided it seems to some.
and the saga continues. I find myself on your blogsite now for a second time, and I still see it the same.
This is a wonderful city, full of great people. The blight that continues to bloom throughout the cold chilly air in the downtown core is going to have to move along. Your example of what is happening really shows what it takes to make a change. These people are languishing in self-pity, searching for some app on their ipods to free them from the real world. They should look outside their bubbles and see, here is a person who can put himself out there and truly demonstrate with a purpose.
And as I stated in an earlier comment.
Unleash the firehoses…the game is over.
I totally appreciate the point you have made, as well as the feelings of disgust and disappointment with this 99% population that seemingly do not understand the concept of mathamatics, but I wonder why you waste so much effort on this? Could we all maybe just ignore these people undeserving of any type of thought let alone action? Perhaps a stronger message: that the occupy movement is not worth the time of day for the true 99%?
I love that you did this! Your signs were no more ridiculous than the ones I’ve seen from the occupiers…..in fact they’re better! I’m totally behind more sunny days in July!