At this week's Town Council meeting resident of Strathmore, Sam Parsons expressed his distress with the fine attached to the Community Standards Bylaw No. 13-05 that was passed by Town Council on July 26, due to the influx of graphic image flyers being placed on residents' doorsteps.
The Bylaw was put in place to protect all residents of Strathmore from potentially harmful material being distributed to them or their children which Parson says that he is all for, however, he explained that the bylaw only protects those who may have been traumatized by a pregnancy loss or those who are offended by pro-life views, but he says that bylaw does not list other offensive materials that could also be distributed.
"There are so many other offensive materials that are not addressed in this bylaw not just pinpointing the pro-life group. It is also discouraging of their freedom of speech by forcing them to reveal their name and address, making them a target of aggression for all those who hate pro-life."
Parson's main concern with the bylaw however was the fines that distributing the graphic images would carry, for instance, the minimum fine for distributing the images can be up to $500 for each case. He then goes on to explain that the fine for bullying is $250, "Tell me how you have put bullying ranked (lower than) than this offence of passing out these envelopes."
Parson came with two main objectives regarding how Town Council could make the bylaw fair to everyone and not have to include the sender's address on the material. The first being to put offensive materials into an envelope and label it with a warning, and the second is to have people register envelopes with the Town themselves so the Town would be aware of their identity but the recipients would not.
Council discussed at length about potentially amending the bylaw and for the council's consideration to take place at the October 18 meeting. The amendment could include a potential reduction in the minimum penalty from its current rate of $500 to $100. In addition, they would discuss changing the definition of graphic images to mean a visual image showing or purporting to show a dismembered human fetus, and to potentially delete the requirement for the sender to display their name and address in order to not clearly identify the sender.
There was debate among the councillors with some expressing that this bylaw is technically encompassing all images of a fetus, regardless of it being an ultrasound of a dismembered image, an example brought forward was that if an ultrasound clinic wanted to distribute potential advertising materials or items of that nature they would be facing a fine by doing so. In contrast, other councillors felt that the current bylaw wasn't intended for ultrasound pictures.
Councilor Richard Wegener clarified before they took a vote that Bylaw No. 13-05 is not banning other people's rights to send out these flyers there are now just more guidelines around the distribution, "It has to be in the opaque envelope with the senders return address on it.
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