A notice of motion was brought forward to this week's Airdrie City council meeting that would direct administration to make changes to the Community Standard Bylaw, after complaints surfaced in recent weeks of graphic anti-abortion flyers being delivered door to door.
On July 4, council brought forward a motion that would set regulations on how unwanted flyers depicting graphic images of aborted fetuses could be delivered to Airdrie homes. The regulations would make it so that any graphic images be put in an opaque envelope while being labelled as graphic. The new regulations would also force senders to put their name and address on the envelopes.
Mayor Peter Brown said the the motion was brought forward due to concerns from community members. He said the City received a number of complaints about the graphic nature of the content being left at residents' homes.
"A lot of their children saw them and they were very upset about them," he said.
In response to anti-abortion flyers being distributed throughout the city, a petition on the website change.org began on May 17. The petition is asking the City of Airdrie to follow the example of Calgary’s new bylaw that would have boundaries set on how graphic images are delivered to people’s homes.
The petition asks for the use of opaque envelopes, graphic warning labels, and a $1,000 fine for those who violate the conditions set. As of the morning of July 5, the petition had collected 599 signatures, with a new goal of reaching 1,000.
In 2020, Airdrie's council voted against making amendments to the Community Standards Bylaw that would have limited the distribution of flyers in response to anti-abortion materials being left at Airdrie homes. The amended bylaw would have stipulated that residents could opt out of receiving flyers on their doorstep. In addition, the bylaw would have also provided an exemption to election advertising, newspapers, community newsletters, or government information.
The changes to the bylaw were ultimately struck down due to concerns that it would impact small businesses. At the time, members of council argued the changes were too vague and would restrict businesses from distributing flyers over concerns of being fined.
Brown said the proposed changes this time are an adaptation of the bylaw that was approved by Calgary's City council. He noted the new proposal does not prohibit the distribution of flyers, but that there would be consequences for delivering graphic images without using an envelope and warning label.
"It doesn't prevent anyone from sending anything to anybody," he said. "It just says if you're going to send out pictures in a graphic nature, which will be identified within the bylaw, then it needs to be in an envelope and it needs to say where it came from or there are consequences."
As a result of Monday's notice of motion, a public input session has been scheduled for the Sept. 6 council meeting. The meeting will give council members a chance to listen to concerns from Airdrie residents about the recommended changes to the bylaw.
Brown said they expect high levels of participation at the Sept. 6 meeting. He added that those who cannot attend can still write letters with their concerns.
"If they're not able to come, they can write letters. But we expect a lot of participation," Brown said.