Strathmore town council approved an amendment to the Community Standards Bylaw 23-27, regarding the unsolicited distribution of graphic images, during the special meeting of council, held July 26.
During the previous regular meeting of council, July 19, a delegation was presented by Alison Mabbott, a resident expressing concerns regarding the graphic imagery depicted in anti-abortion flyers distributed door-to-door.
She also noted concerns about the increased frequency at which those flyers were appearing on doorsteps and in mailboxes this summer, following Calgary’s implementation of a similar bylaw.
Mabbott returned to council during the special meeting to reiterate her concerns, as well as to thank council for their rapid response in drafting the bylaw amendment.
“There has been a drastic influx in the distribution of graphic image flyer materials within our community. As frustrating as this is, this shows bylaws work,” she said. “These materials have been distributed in Strathmore because (of) the graphic flyer bylaw within the City of Calgary. It is easier to continue to distribute these flyers door-to-door within our community versus concealing them in an envelope, adding a graphic content warning, and including a name and address of the sender.”
Based on a release distributed by the town, the decision to move forward with an amending bylaw aligns with council’s Strategic Plan for Community Wellness and Intentional Community Development.
Following Mabbott’s presentation, another statement was made to council requesting the bylaw amendment to be delayed in favour of receiving more public consultation.
“I am concerned about how quickly this is being pushed through, but more so that there has been no public consultation with stakeholders that mail other forms of communication that may be considered undesirable, or just stakeholders that communicate through the mail,” said the resident. “I find this to be wrong, and if anything, it appears that the public consultation process for this bylaw has taken place on Facebook – that is unprofessional and highly inappropriate.”
Town administration clarified that the amendment to the bylaw, prior to council’s vote, does not apply to mail delivered to a house via Canada Post, or anything that is requested by a sender.
“This is an emotional subject for many. When you go door-to-door, you don’t know if that person has experienced a loss, or if those materials could end up in the hands of a child,” said Mayor Pat Fule.
“Requiring these types of pamphlets to be enclosed in opaque envelopes adds a layer of protection while still upholding the importance of allowing people the freedom to express their opinions.”
Third reading was given to the bylaw amendment unanimously by Strathmore town council. The bylaw came into effect immediately upon signing of the document by council. More information regarding the specific wording and conditions of the document are publicly available via the town website.
By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Aug 02, 2023