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Street Harassment

The impacts of harassment have lasting affects for individuals, both emotionally and psychologically. Street harassment is a cultural and intergenerational issue that is prevalent in society as an expression of power. It restricts safe access to public spaces for victims and forces them to alter their behaviour out of fear, anxiety, and other psychological and physical harms.

It creates imbalanced power dynamics and inequality, disproportionately impacting affected groups at higher risk of being targeted. 

This is why The City of Calgary has taken actions to make our streets safer for everyone.

We listened.

The City studied the prevalence of street harassment locally, nationally, and internationally to understand the impact it has on the victim’s quality of life.  We heard, considered, and gathered data to inform our next steps by:

  • Researching current best practices and initiatives addressing street harassment in other cities.
  • Conducting a survey of 500 randomly selected Calgarians to understand their experience with street harassment.
  • Reviewing existing bylaws with a lens of equity.
  • Engaging community-based partners and agencies that support victims of street harassment locally
  • Evaluating peer reviewed research to understand sociological impact of this problem.

Public opinion research revealed that nearly 45 per cent of Calgarians surveyed feel that street harassment has a moderate to major impact on their quality of life. It also indicated that while Calgarians tend to feel safe on streets and in public spaces, street harassment does impact communities overall; and is disproportionally experienced by females, Racialized or Indigenous persons, people who wear clothing or symbols that indicate their religion, and members of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

Four in five of those surveyed felt The City of Calgary could take a larger role in addressing this issue.

As a result, Calgary-based recommendations to address street harassment were formed.

We’re taking a stand.

The City of Calgary is taking a holistic approach to end street harassment. The measures use collaboration, education, and enforcement to regulate behaviour that infringes on Calgarians’ ability to enjoy public spaces and feel safe in communities.

Actions to deter negative behaviour and support victims make it clear that street harassment will not be tolerated in Calgary. These measures include:

  • Street Harassment Amendment to Public Behaviour Bylaw 54M2006: As of June 1, 2022 it is an offence to harass another person in a public space in Calgary, carrying a fine of $500.
  • Public Awareness: We understand that enforcement cannot solely address this systemic issue. Therefore, we are working to increase public awareness of street harassment and encouraging Calgarians to be aware of their own safety and the safety of others.
  • UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Program Global Initiative: In February 2023, The City of Calgary became a member of United Nations Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Initiative.

Our aligned goal is to end harassment, altogether.

How the bylaw will work

Enforceable in public spaces

Beginning June 1, 2022, the Public Behaviour Bylaw 54M2006 restricts harassment of another person in a public space.

In the bylaw, to ‘harass’ is defined as: 

Communicating with a person in a manner that could reasonably cause offence or humiliation, including conduct, comment, or actions that refers to the person’s:

  • race/colour/ancestry/place of origin
  • religious beliefs
  • disability
  • age
  • marital status
  • source of income
  • family status
  • gender/gender identity/gender expression
  • sexual orientation;
  • or includes a sexual solicitation or advance

This can include but is not limited to:

  • Personalized attacks
  • Insults or slurs
  • Obscene behaviours or comments
  • Behaviour designed to humiliate and intimidate
  • Interference with someone’s use of a public space

The bylaw applies to any instance of harassment behaviour in a space within Calgary where the public has access. This includes businesses such as restaurants, on sidewalks, in libraries, etc.

Infractions carry a fine of $500, which is meant to act as a deterrent of the behaviour. Every report and potential violation of this bylaw will be approached seriously and investigated.

How to report

To report street harassment, please call 311 (from within Calgary) or 403-268-CITY (2489) (from outside Calgary) or use the 311 app or:

You will be asked to share:

  • What happened
  • A description of the offender
  • Location of the incident
  • Other helpful information, including any statements from witnesses describing what was said or done and how it caused offence or humiliation, or any video footage or audio recordings.

If you feel threatened or in danger, please contact 911 for immediate assistance.

We know experiencing street harassment is difficult. If you would like to talk to someone, please reach out for support by calling the Distress Centre at 403-266-4357 (open 24-hours).

Let’s continue to make Calgary a safe and welcoming city for everyone.

Additional actions and resources

  • UN Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Initiative

    The City of Calgary has been accepted as a member of the United Nations Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Initiative.

  • Downtown Safety Initiatives

    There are many ways we're keeping you safe while you're downtown including the Downtown Ambassador program and the Stephen Avenue Safety Hub.

  • Street Harassment Bylaw Community Guide

    View the Street Harassment Community Guide

Frequently asked questions

How did we get here?

In developing actions to take, The City of Calgary engaged with Calgarians and community partners, conducted public opinion research, scanned Canadian cities, researched legislation in international jurisdictions and peer-reviewed literature, and analyzed The City’s existing public safety bylaws through an equity lens.

Through engagement, The City of Calgary heard that Calgarians have been victims of street harassment. Public opinion suggests that most of those surveyed felt that all Calgarians have a responsibility to reduce street harassment and that The City needs to play a role in its prevention.

How did you engage ethno cultural communities and safe groups?

Since an organizational level approach was used, we reached out to over 50 organizations that support victims of street harassment. These include ethno cultural communities. All organizations were approached by means of an email communication that provided access to the surveys. Organizations were given the option to fill out survey or have someone on correspondence via telephone or in person to provide their input.

Who was engaged to gather feedback?

Extensive engagement was undertaken and included:

  • Organizations and agencies who work with victims of street harassment.
  • Internal City of Calgary staff who have first-hand knowledge working with the existing bylaws and laws.
  • The Anti-Racism Action Committee, which advises on the development and implementation of a community-based anti-racism strategy and engages with stakeholders on systemic racism.
  • Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee that provides recommendations on policies that are meant to support Indigenous people.

What is The City of Calgary’s jurisdiction to enforce a bylaw addressing street harassment?

Section 7 of the Municipal Government Act outlines the municipality’s jurisdiction to pass bylaws with respect to a) the safety, health and welfare of people and the protection of people and property; and b) people, activities and things in, on or near a public place or place that is open to the public.

The purpose of the bylaw is to ensure the safety and welfare of individuals who find themselves in public places within the city.

I have reported the incident, now what?

The community peace officers will begin their investigation and contact the phone number provided on the file to get additional information.

What information should I collect to be able to support the investigation?

If you are a victim of street harassment or if you witness it happening to someone else, try to gather as much information as possible. Detailed information helps our Community Peace Officers significantly during investigation.

Make note of the date of the incident, approximate time, location, verbiage and tone used by the offender. In incidents where it is SAFE to do so, you may be able to record the incident on your cell phone or take photos. Please beware that an offender may object to being filmed or have their photo taken. If taking a recording or photo is unsafe, make note of the individual’s description, how they left the incident (i.e.: car, train, foot), approximate age, build, hair, gender, ethnicity, etc. 

Enforcement is not dependent on photo or video evidence so ALWAYS prioritize your personal safety.

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