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RFD- 3815 Bylaws   Item #   10. c.    
Regular Council Meeting Agenda
Meeting Date: 02/10/2020  
Title:    C-1103-19 - Conversion Therapy Prohibition Bylaw - Second Reading - Wolanski
Department: Community & Protective Services  
Strategic Vision Element: Where People Choose to Experience Community - A vibrant place for community involvement and social wellness Related Goal: Citizens feel safe within their communities.

Request for Decision Summary
The purpose of this report is to seek Council’s support for the second reading of Bylaw C-1103-19. This bylaw prohibits any Person from performing Conversion Therapy on a minor or any Person without Valid Consent and prohibits advertising of Conversion Therapy services.
Proposed Motion
That second reading be given to Bylaw C-1103-19 – Conversion Therapy Prohibition Bylaw.
A notice of motion was brought forward at the regular meeting of Council on July 15, 2019 regarding Conversion Therapy in Spruce Grove. Subsequently, a motion was passed on August 12, 2019 that:
  • Administration research and prepare a report back to Council by October 15, 2019 regarding the potential to ban the practice of Conversion Therapy in Spruce Grove.  
The report was presented at the Regular Council Meeting on October 15, 2019 and Council passed the following motion:
  • Prepare a bylaw to prohibit the practice of Conversion Therapy pursuant to Sections 7 and 8 of the Municipal Government Act. Section 3 of the Municipal Government Act states that it is a municipal purpose to maintain and develop safe and viable communities. Sections 7 and 8 give municipal councils the authority to pass bylaws that regulate or prohibit activities, and that are in relation to the safety, health and welfare of people, and the protection of property.
First reading was given at the Council meeting on January 27, 2020.  The bylaw is being presented for second reading.

Key components of this bylaw include: 

Definition of Conversion Therapy

“Conversion Therapy” in this bylaw is defined as:

Any practice, treatment, or service designed to change or convert an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. This does not include treatment by a Medical Professional that:
  1. explores aspects of an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression; or
  2. supports age or developmental-level-appropriate use of gender transition to align an individual’s biological and anatomical features with the individual’s gender identity.
Addition of Valid Consent

Conversion therapy bylaws enacted in other municipalities typically prohibit the practice of Conversion Therapy on minors (anyone under the age of 18). To strengthen the proposed bylaw, the requirement for Valid Consent, regardless of age, was added. Valid Consent means that a person participates voluntarily and has capacity to consent. For clarity, "voluntary" and "capacity" are also defined in the bylaw.

Alignment of Language

The terms "sexual orientation", "gender identity", and "gender expression" are used within this bylaw to align with the language used in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Sexual orientation is a person's feelings of attraction or affection that guide intimacy with others. Gender identity is a person's sense of their gender as it relates to maleness or femaleness. All people have a gender identity which can match their biological sex or be different. Gender expression is a person's outward display of their gender.

Enforcement and Penalties

A Peace Officer may issue a violation ticket to anyone that they believe, on reasonable and probable grounds, has committed an offence. Any person found guilty on a summary conviction may receive a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.  

Potential Legal Challenges

A potential basis for challenge would be the perceived offence of person’s freedom of speech or religious expression under s.2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As outlined in s.1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, these rights are not absolute and can be limited to protect other rights and prevent harm to individuals and groups.
Council may recommend amendments to the proposed bylaw by making the following motion:
 That the motion for second reading of C-1103-19 – Conversion Therapy Prohibition Bylaw be referred back to Administration to incorporate Council’s feedback.  
Since October 2019, three jurisdictions in Alberta have passed Conversion Therapy bylaws: the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, the City of Edmonton, and the City of St. Albert. Administration considered these bylaws, along with the bylaws passed/proposed by Strathcona County and Rocky Mountain House, throughout the development of the proposed bylaw. Further, position statements from several professional bodies were also reviewed.

Consideration was also given to public input received, including written and verbal submissions at the October 15, 2019 council meeting and afterward. The definition of Conversion Therapy was modified and Valid Consent was added based on this input.

Internal stakeholders were consulted in the development of the bylaw and policy including Protective Services, Planning and Development, Communications, City Clerk, and Corporate Leadership Team. 

Legal counsel completed a review of the bylaw under the lens of the Municipal Government ActAlberta Human Rights Act, Criminal Code, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.   

This bylaw is receiving first, second, and third readings at separate Council meetings to allow for transparency and the opportunity for comprehensive review prior to coming into force. 
Administration plans to bring Bylaw C-1103-19 to back to Council for third reading on February 24, 2020.
Demonstrated support for vulnerable populations within the City.
Bylaw C-1103-19

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