Mayor Nenshi on bullying at SW Transitway open houses

Post Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2016

During a recent open house to engage citizens about the future of the SW Transitway, a group of people people disrupted the event for all in attendance. This includes shouting and inappropriate language, shoving, threats of violence, and a death threat. UPDATE: click here to view a survey of City of Calgary staff, consultants, and members of Council and Ward offices that describes experiences during the engagement session on February 23, 2016.

I've learned that at recent public engagement events for the SW Transitway project, some of our fellow citizens have gone far beyond civil discourse. At an event last night there was yelling and swearing, pushing and shoving, threats of violence, and a death threat. Simply put: this is unCalgarian. No citizen should have to endure that simply to share their ideas or ask their questions about a public project. Not a single one of my City of Calgary colleagues deserves abuse like what they have experienced.

For that reason, I have asked that we move public engagement on this project online. The project website will become a comprehensive and easy-to-use virtual open house where any Calgarian can view project plans and details and ask a City employee questions. We'll also be collecting opinions so that the project can be adjusted wherever possible.

This means that, for the safety of citizens and City of Calgary employees, the in-person open houses will be discontinued (on the SW Transitway project only). In our democracy, everyone deserves the right to share their opinions and ask questions in a safe and welcoming environment. This could not be done at the open house last night and I sincerely hope that this will now happen online.

- Mayor Naheed Nenshi
In response to this, Mayor Nenshi has asked that online engagement activity be dramatically increased while future in-person public engagement be discontinued on this project.

Above is the news conference at which he announced this to the media and the public.

Following the news conference, Councillor Brian Pincott spoke with media about his experience at the public engagement event and how he will continue to engage with his citizens on this and other important projects in his ward. His comments are also included in this video.