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Updated: 6th January 2019 14:48

No plans to force out Occupy Calgary protesters right away

The City of Calgary says it will not force Occupy Calgary protestors from Olympic Plaza any time soon, despite concerns raised by Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart.

Mayor says they must respect the freedom of expression of protesters

The City of Calgary says it will not force Occupy Calgary protestors from Olympic Plaza any time soon.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the city will respect the Olympic Park campers's right to protest, for now anyway. (CBC)The mayor joined police and bylaw services in saying there is no urgent need to move the protesters on.

"This is not a crisis in any way," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

He said whether or not people agree with the protesters, there is still the need to balance their freedom of expression.

"It strikes at the heart of the values that we hold as Canadians, and we have to be very thoughtful in addressing it," said Nenshi.

Bylaw Services director Bill Bruce said they have been down at Olympic Plaza patrolling daily.

He said they have handed out tickets for open alcohol, smoking in a public park and open fires, and Calgary police have also laid a few criminal charges, but they have all been accepted without a problem.

"What we have here is a very peaceful protest," said Bruce. "The people we are talking to are respectful."

Bruce said there may come a point where there is an impasse that would require an escalation to the next level, but it’s not here yet.

Calgary’s acting police chief Trevor Daroux said the next level could include a posted sign banning camping, tickets and eventually a court injunction for each camper.

Precedent setting, says one council member

Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart was hoping the campers at Olympic Plaza would have left by Oct. 27. (CBC)A member of city council says she's disappointed with the way the city is handling the Occupy Calgary protest camp in Olympic Plaza.

Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart told reporters at city hall Friday that she'll ask council to support a motion on Monday to investigate the city's response to the Occupy Calgary protest.

Colley-Urquhart, who represents Ward 13, isn't happy there are still protesters in Olympic Plaza in violation of city bylaws for camping in a city park.

"Why should these people be treated any differently than other groups that apply for a permit," she said. "They pay their fees, they're told that you can be there from this hour to this hour and then be gone.  People want to be treated fairly. They want a level playing field."

Colley-Urquhart said council was told two weeks ago the situation would be resolved by Oct. 27 and the campers are still in place, roughly three weeks after they pitched their tents.

She wants to know how much time and resources the city has spent on this situation, why the emergency management agency was put in charge of the city's response so far and what steps can be taken to prevent similar protests in the future.

Colley-Urquhart said the city is drifting in its handling of Occupy Calgary and she's worried about the precedents being set here.

However, when asked if her motion will ultimately see the protesters leave Olympic Plaza through any means, she said she doubts it.

Olympic Plaza protesters vow to stay

Although campers at St. Patrick’s Island announced they will pack up their tents by Monday morning after reaching a deal to find homes and services for the homeless people living there, the protesters at Olympic Plaza say they aren’t going anywhere.

P.O.V.

Can the Occupy movement survive without campsites? Have your say.

The deal created a big rift between the two segments of Occupy Calgary protesters.

Those at Olympic Plaza, many of them students, say they plan to continue spreading their message about economic inequality that goes beyond just homelessness.

"It’s our first test to find out who’s really motivated in being here for the greater good," said protester Brent Talbot.

Paul Hughes, who says he’s the camp manager at the St. Patrick’s location, insists their protest was successful and they worked with the city, police and the Calgary Homeless Foundation to make it happen.

"They did a spectacular job — a very convincing job," he said. "They have provided the supports so people will be in their homes. They've basically done everything they could to listen to people."

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