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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Thursday, August 18, 2022
Letter to the editor: Horse protests frustrating but legal, mayor says
Betty

SUBMITTED BY LORD MAYOR BETTY DISERO, TOWN OF NOTL.
OPINION

NOTL Lord Mayor Betty Disero issued the following statement via social media this week:

I am allowed to say “the horse and carriage rides are a beautiful part of our heritage and present culture.” Having said that, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives anyone the right to disagree with my statement above, provided they object in a peaceful manner. I am glad we all have that right.

The question is, how can a municipality and the police manage this? Let’s take a moment to look at the facts:

FACT: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 2(c) states that all Canadians have the right to the freedom of peaceful assembly.

FACT: Permits are required by a municipality and the police for a march, demonstration or rally only when a road or park or public property is going to be closed for the march, demonstration or rally. There is a non-mandatory permit that can be filled out and submitted directly to the Niagara Regional Police to inform them of upcoming protests.

FACT: Protesters can conduct peaceful protests and the police can be called to keep the peace if required. A Speakers’ Corner can be erected to promote free speech, but protesters cannot be required to use it. The municipality does not have the right to force protesters to a certain area but can offer or negotiate a location with protesters.

So, what is the Town of NOTL doing?

Town staff and I are in contact with the Niagara Regional Police on a daily basis. Town staff and the Niagara Regional Police are researching every aspect of what our rights are as a municipality.

Insp. James McCaffery spoke at the July 15 council meeting to provide an update on the situation. The town and the Niagara Regional Police continue to meet with all stakeholders to ensure the situation remains peaceful.

I share our community’s frustrations and hope this will come to a peaceful end.

Lord Mayor Betty Disero

Town of NOTL