Racist submissions distasteful but allowable, for now, Calgary council decides

Council decided Monday that racist written submissions should remain part of the public record — for now — as controversy erupted over several letters submitted in opposition to a pair of secondary-suite applications in Southwood.

Letters attacking neighbours' ethnicity submitted in opposition to secondary-suite applications

Coun. Druh Farrell says racist letters should be kept as part of the public record to expose the viewpoints and the people behind them. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Council decided Monday that racist written submissions should remain part of the public record — for now — as controversy erupted over several letters submitted in opposition to a pair of secondary-suite applications in Southwood.

"If I wanted to live in a community of savages I would move to a 3rd world country that didnt (sic) have outrageous taxes that Calgary has," reads one submission.

"I am opposed for these 'people' from other countries coming here and trying to change their land use from R1 [contextual] to R1s," reads another letter.

"Who do they think they are?? Could we do this in their country. We do not want secondary suites in Southwood."

The letters were submitted in opposition to an application from two area landowners who are seeking a land-use redesignation to build a secondary suite in their home.

Similar letters, coming from the same email addresses and bearing the same names in the signatures, were submitted in opposition to another secondary-suite application in the same community.

"They should just butt out, right out of the country," reads one of those submissions, highlighting the surnames of the applicants, which are common in Algeria.

Motion to strike the letters

Coun. Brian Pincott suggested the letters be removed from the public record, noting residents speaking in person to council during a public hearing would not be allowed to carry on in such a manner.

The city's law department, however, and several other councillors expressed discomfort at the idea of censoring written submissions.

Coun. Druh Farrell, suggested letters like these should be kept part of the public record in order to expose such viewpoints and the people behind them.

Council ultimately voted down the motion but did agree to send the matter the city's legislative governance task force for further consideration.

When it came to the secondary suite applications themselves, one was approved by council while the other was rejected.

With files from Scott Dippel

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