On Tuesday afternoon, Airdrie's City Council unanimously passed a bylaw amendment with regard to the distribution of images with graphic flyers.

The Community Standards bylaw now states that anyone who wants to distribute a graphic flyer can only do so if the graphic image is contained in a sealed opaque envelope; the exterior of the envelope contains the following legible warning: “Contains a Graphic Image that may be offensive or disturbing”; and the exterior of the envelope clearly identifies the sender and the sender’s address.

Those who do not follow the bylaw may be subject to a $1,000 fine. Airdrie's bylaw amendments follow closely to the City of Calgary's bylaws, which were also amended in May. The fines will be administered per flyer distributed. Hence, if 40 flyers are distributed, not adhering to the bylaw, the fine would be $40,000.

Councillor Candice Kolson noted that this topic has been one that has garnered much public engagement over the past several years.

"We had - I would say - in the last three years the most engagement that I've had from any citizens; the most emails and concerns for this topic. It's a long time coming [and] I'm happy to see there's some traction [on this.]"

In 2019, a similar amendment was considered, however, Tammy Belsham of the City's Legislative Services said that at that time, no municipalities in Alberta were regulating the distribution of graphic materials due to the potential risk of a charter challenge.

"The proposed amendments were defeated at the second reading and the bylaw remained status quo. The amendments being proposed aim to strike a balance between the right to freedom of expression and the right to not unwillingly be exposed to graphic content. The administration believes that the proposed amendments do strike this balance," she said. 

Belsham added that the bylaw amendments do not prohibit any flyer from being delivered, but instead allow residents to make a conscious decision about whether or not they want to view the content of the flyer. 

It was also clarified that mail that is delivered through Canada Post will not be subject to the restrictions and the proposed bylaw amendments as it is federally regulated. 

Airdrie is one of few municipalities in Alberta that have such bylaws, alongside Calgary and Okotoks. 

The amended bylaw comes after council in one of their early July meetings put forth a notice of motion after Airdrie residents had complained about the unsolicited distribution of flyers earlier this year. 

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