Hamilton City Council easing up on protest rules for city hall forecourt

A list that spells out what people can and can’t do during protests in the city hall forecourt has been approved by Hamilton City Council.

Many of the activities that were to have been banned, within a controversial draft policy that was first circulated earlier this week, have been scratched from the approved list of banned behaviours.

As outlined in the approved list, it’s still fine to be “boisterous” and create a “nuisance” during demonstrations.

Also still allowed are the use of sound amplifying equipment, such as megaphones, sidewalk chalk, food and beverages and handing out fliers.

Civil liberties experts warned that the original list was unlikely to survive a constitutional challenge.

Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark, who brought forward the amended list for approval on Friday morning, says it’s a recognition that civic engagement or protest by its nature will be deemed by some to be “a nuisance.”

Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann is also hopeful that council has “struck that balance” and drawn a line at “city properties being used as breeding grounds for hate groups” while ensuring that “the forecourt in front of city hall is a protected area for free speech.”

The “hate incident” prevention policy, which will now go out for public consultation, also calls for the upgrading of surveillance cameras outside of city hall.

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