Edmonton

Anti-abortion group takes Edmonton to court over refusing bridge light colours

The Alberta March for Life Association is asking a judge to review a City of Edmonton decision to cancel lighting on a bridge in the group's requested colours.

'Polarizing nature of the subject matter' blamed for cancellation of lighting event

A program through the City of Edmonton determines the colours of the lights on the High Level Bridge. (CBC News)

The Alberta March for Life Association is asking a judge to review a City of Edmonton decision to cancel lighting on a bridge in the group's requested colours.

The pro-life association had applied to a city program that allows community groups to request the High Level Bridge be lit in specific colours to reflect an event or cause.

Documents filed in court say vice-chairman Jerry Pasternak asked for the bridge to be lit in pink, blue and white on May 9 to recognize the association's annual March for Life.

He says in the filing that the city approved the request in March, but cancelled it in April due to the "polarizing nature of the subject matter."

'Partiality and prejudice'

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms filed an application for the judicial review on behalf of the association and Pasternak.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, a city spokesperson said the city has been notified of the legal action but cannot comment, as the matter is before the courts. 

"The bridge has been lit in the past for the following causes: the promotion of sexual and gender diversity, LGBT Pride, various Islamic holidays and celebrations," said the application.

"The bridge has also, ironically, been lit in association with International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day and various disability awareness campaigns."

The documents say the expression of anti-abortion opinions is part of the diversity of expression in a free society and protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"In denying permission to the applicants to also light the bridge, the City of Edmonton has demonstrated partiality and prejudice on political or ideological grounds."

The court document alleges that a nearly identical circumstance occurred in 2017.

The application is to be heard on Nov. 12 in Edmonton's Court of Queen's Bench.