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RFD- 3912 Bylaws   Item #   10. a.    
Regular Council Meeting Agenda
Meeting Date: 03/23/2020  
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.

Information
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 Conversion Therapy for businesses in the City of Spruce Grove and prohibits practicing, offering, or advertising Conversion Therapy on Minors.  
Proposed Motion
That second reading be given to Bylaw C-1103-19 – Conversion Therapy Prohibition Bylaw, as amended.
Background/Analysis
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 was presented for second reading on February 10, 2020. The second reading was referred back to Administration for revisions and further legal review.

A closed session presentation to Council was held at the regular meeting on March 9, 2020 to further discuss Council's questions from the meeting on February 10, 2020 and share legal advice regarding the bylaw.  Based on that discussion, an amended bylaw has been drafted by Administration and is being presented for second reading. 

For ease and transparency of changes, both a redline and a clean version of the amended bylaw are attached.

Key components of this revised bylaw include:

The bylaw has been amended to align with the purpose and intent of the other bylaws passed by Alberta municipalities. The most significant change is the focus on business use rather than an an overall ban. On March 9, 2020 the Federal Government introduced a bill (S-2020) with proposed changes to the Criminal Code to ban conversion therapy. As the federal authority supersedes municipal jurisdiction, a municipal bylaw that focuses on business use, is better aligned to compliment any federal legislation. Additional changes to the bylaw include: 
  • Change in the definition of Conversion Therapy to closely match with the neighbouring municipalities of St. Albert and Edmonton; 
  • Removal of the exception of consent;
  • Change to the preamble to align with neighbouring municipalities;
  • Addition of the definition of Business; and
  • Change in penalty to remove the reference to imprisonment.
Potential Legal Challenges

A potential basis for challenge would be the perceived offence of Person’s freedom of speech or religious expression under section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, as outlined in section 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.
Options/Alternatives
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.  
Consultation/Engagement
Consideration was also given to public input received, including written and verbal submissions at the October 15, 2019 council meeting and afterward.

Internal stakeholders were consulted in the development of the bylaw including Protective Services, Planning and Development, Communications, the City Clerk's Office, and the 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. 
Implementation/Communication
Administration plans to bring Bylaw C-1103-19 to back to Council for third reading on April 6, 2020.
Impacts
Demonstrated support for vulnerable populations within the City.
Attachments
Conversion Therapy Bylaw - Redline Version
Conversion Therapy Bylaw - Clean Version

City Council and Committee of the Whole agendas and minutes are posted on the City of Spruce Grove website for information purposes only. These agendas may be changed at the discretion of Council by the addition or deletion of items. Anyone reviewing the draft agenda should do so on the understanding that it is subject to change by Council.

All attachments are in PDF format, and require the Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in for viewing.

Audio from the most recent City Council and Committee of the Whole meetings are available via podcast on the City of Spruce Grove website.



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