Canada
Aldermen pitch move to remove Occupy Calgary tents

Credits: (STUART DRYDEN/CALGARY SUN)

KATIE SCHNEIDER | CALGARY SUN

If they can't remove the squatters, take away the tents, say aldermen in favour of ending the Occupy Calgary movement at Olympic Plaza.

On Friday, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the city has the power to remove materials, but not people, so Ald. Gord Lowe and a majority of his colleagues believe it's time to do just that.

"The Charter guarantees the right of assembly, the Charter guarantees the right of expression, and I respect that, I don't see the argument in giving people the ability to squat on public property - assembly is different than squatting," he said.

"I'm not convinced we don't have authority to remove tents - why haven't they removed the tents?"

Ald. Jim Stevenson said he believes it's time to take action as well, perhaps starting by removing unoccupied tents.

"We have been pretty lax on it - we have been getting law advice, and police advice and administration advice and we as a council have to step up," he said, adding the Charter rights being claimed by protesters should also include responsibilities.

"These people are not very responsible, they are insisting on their rights over other rights."

Ald. Ray Jones, who called the tents unsightly, said Charter rights should not override the bylaw when damage, reportedly worth as much $40,000, is done.

"Once they started doing damage their Charter of Rights went out the window," he said.

"Let them protest, but the tents should be gone - it's time for them to leave."

But bylaw boss Bill Bruce, who could not confirm the damage was worth $40,000, said while citizens are not allowed to set up camp in public places, including Olympic Plaza, the Charter protects them as soon as it becomes a matter of expression.

He said bylaw officers do have the power to remove unoccupied tents, however.

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