Temporary court injunction tied to protests in Calgary's Beltline ends

A temporary court injunction intended to address protests in the city's Beltline against public health measures has ended.

City of Calgary says it has discontinued its application for permanent injunction

Protesters and police clashed in Calgary's Beltline in early March. Later that month, the City of Calgary sought a temporary court injunction to address the protests. The injunction expired Tuesday, April 26. (Helen Pike/CBC)

A temporary court injunction intended to address protests in the city's Beltline against public health measures has ended.

The injunction had been in place since March 18.

An Alberta Court of Queen's Bench justice granted the injunction, which prohibited ongoing violations of existing bylaws and legislation, and also reinforced and clarified enforcement authority.

"The city thanks everyone for their co-operation. We believe the injunction is no longer required and that ongoing activity can effectively be managed under existing laws and bylaws," the city said in a release Tuesday.

The city said the injunction was originally sought due to the "compounding impact" of the ongoing disruptions as well as escalating behaviour that was causing public safety concerns.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said that while the city maintains the ability to bring back the injunction, the current feeling is that it is no longer needed.

"A very clear message was sent with the injunction as to what is and is not appropriate in terms of a protest or delivering a message through a rally," said Gondek.

"I think people understood it, and they responded in a manner that they are now congregating in places that are most appropriate to deliver that kind of message."

Doug King, a professor of justice studies at Mount Royal University, said at the time of the injunction that it was an important warning shot for those engaged in such protests.

"There are consequences for breaking the law while engaged in a peaceful protest," he said. 

At the beginning of this year, there were about 300 people attending the protests, according to police. In February, that number grew to between 2,000 and 5,000. By the end of February and early March there were 1,300.

"I am pleased to see that the injunction has come to an end and hopefully with it the selective enforcement and harassment of those exercising their fundamental rights will also conclude," said Jake Eskesen, a spokesperson for the anti-mandate group Calgary Freedom Central, in a statement to CBC News. 

Eskesen said he is concerned about the potential precedent set by the temporary court injunction and believes the move was a blatant overreach by the city. 

"We will continue to protest weekly until all [COVID-19] mandates and restrictions at all levels of government are removed," said Eskesen.

He added that this Saturday's rally would take place at City Hall and that any plans to return to protesting in the Beltline would be evaluated over the coming weeks. 

Peter Oliver, president of the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association, said the community benefited from the lack of protests over the course of the injunction. 

"Life for the neighborhood has really gone back to normal on Saturdays. I think residents and businesses are grateful to have that normalcy and that calm and at least a sense of … safety and a welcoming environment back."

Oliver said the Calgary police are responsible for making sure protests do not escalate if they return to the Beltline, and that they would be keeping a close watch over how things unfold. 

"We're certainly hopeful [that] if they continue to protest, it's at City Hall or one of the government buildings downtown."

The protests in Calgary against COVID-19 public health restrictions started nearly two years ago.

The city said it will continue to work with enforcement partners to monitor the impacts of any ongoing protests and whether or not it may be possible to seek future injunctive relief.

With files from Jade Markus, Scott Dipple