Nudists confused by controversy over naked swimming event

All the hubbub about a planned nude swimming event at the Southland Leisure Centre has an Edmonton group scratching their heads and Calgary nudists mulling options should the swim be cancelled.

Calgary Nude Recreation says there is precedent for a successful lawsuit should event be cancelled

A nude swimming event planned for the Southland Leisure Centre has spawned a petition and a petition against the petition. (@cityofcalgary/Twitter)

All the hubbub about a planned nude swimming event in Calgary has an Edmonton group scratching their heads and local nudists musing about lawsuits should the swim be cancelled. 

"Well, I think it's a little odd," said John Martens, the main administrator of CottonTail Corner, a "naturist" beach near Edmonton. 

"I mean, I think it's mainly because it's quite new to a lot of people, and with the use of social media they can spread the word a lot faster."

Edmonton-area naturist surprised by Calgary controversy 0:25

Petitions

He's referring to the controversy over a planned nude swim and slide at the Southland Leisure Centre in Calgary that has garnered more attention than Calgary Nude Recreation, the organizers, ever anticipated. 

A petition calling on the city to cancel the private function or make it adults only had approximately 15,600 signatures by Tuesday afternoon.

April Parker, who started the petition, said she's not interested in speaking to media outlets about it. 

"I do not want to be on the news, making myself a target for harassment," she said on Facebook Messenger. 

"I started this petition because I feel strongly about this, and so do a lot of other people. I don't know why I am being attack as an individual when there are over 13,000 who agree."

Ensuring there's balance in the universe, another petition has now been started called "shut down the petition to shut down the nude sliding event."

Early Tuesday afternoon, that counter petition had approximately 2,500 signatures. 

City reviewing event

Martens' organization was formed in 2013 and administers Alberta's only official nude beach, as well as hosting multiple public events in Edmonton through the winter, without a fuss. 

"We're not exactly sure up here why there's such a big deal about it. We're not sure why this small group of Calgarians have signed this petition and why some of your councillors are up in arms about it."

The City of Calgary says it is reviewing whether the event can go forward.

"Given the attention this event has received, we are undertaking a review with the event organizer to ensure the privacy and security of participants can be maintained," the city said in a statement.

Calgary Nude Recreation said in a Facebook statement that it's "absolutely preposterous to suggest a tightly controlled closed group is going to be more unsafe than a well-used public nude beach," like the popular Wreck Beach in Vancouver, which has been around for decades.

Talk of lawsuit

The group also called out Coun. Jeromy Farkas, who has criticized the event for allowing children and questioned what the city's liability would be if something were to happen. 

"If Jeromy Farkas is concerned about liability to the city, he should be very concerned about possible lawsuits that may result from discrimination against a family-friendly nude group," said the organization in the statement. 

When asked by CBC News over Facebook whether a lawsuit is planned, the organization said not at this time.

"There certainly is past precedent that we would win such a lawsuit, but at this time there is no reason to believe that there will be a need for one. The event is moving forward as planned and advertised. Our events are open to all ages, all genders, all sexualities, all body types and anyone else that enjoys being naked with like-minded individuals."