Lifestyle

Family-friendly naked swim cancelled by City of Calgary

 

Calgary Nude Recreation’s plans for an evening of riding waterslides and braving wave pools in their birthday suits were cancelled by the city.

“Come play in a water park! What better way is there to escape the cold,” the event page says on meetup.com

The event was planned to take place at the Southland Leisure Centre on Sunday, Jan. 14, and would have been private to members of the group and staff of the centre, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The page goes on to state the rules of the event, which mostly involves ensuring everyone feels comfortable, but also includes rules on how nude people need to be, based on their gender.

“For men nudity is required. Women are required to be at minimum topless, or naked should they choose. For other genders, you need to make the decision yourself,” as stated on the page.

“If someone else feels uncomfortable or feels that their safety is compromised because of your actions, words, or staring, you are in violation of rule #1. Your intentions are irrelevant to the safety and comfort of others.”

This nude swim really made a splash when it was noted that the event would be family-friendly, with children being able to join as well.

Many news outlets jumped at the opportunity to report about the event including The Calgary Herald, The CBC, The Daily Hive and even the local Calgary downtown blogging duo Crackmacs.

It wasn’t long after the event was made known that a petition was started on change.org to cancel the nude swim, or at least, change it so only people 18 or older could participate.

“I respect the concept and believe, in an 18+ setting, it could be a popular event. However, having naked children around a bunch of naked adults doesn’t seem like a good idea for any reason,” the petition reads.

“Realistically there is a lot of mental illness out there that this could trigger/affect.”

The petition had over 20,900 signatures at the time of reporting, however it is noteworthy that one doesn’t have to live in Calgary to sign it.

Resistance to the nude swim wasn’t only in the form of a petition. Jeromy Farkas, Councillor of Ward 11 (which includes the Southland area), spoke up about public concerns regarding the event.

Farkas told The Weal in an exclusive interview that he had received more than 1,000 questions in regards to safety through various mediums.

“My job as an elected official is to raise concerns that are brought to me,” he said.

“When I get over a thousand concerned questions, I have to take them to heart.”

He explained that as far as his personal values are concerned, he believes that if people find the event objectionable, they are free not to participate.

Farkas said that he is one of the first Calgary city councillors who is openly a member of the LGBTQ community, and understands that “nudity is very separate from sex.”

“I’m very live and let live,” Farkas said, explaining that the concerned views brought to him don’t necessarily reflect his own.

“If they [Calgary Nude Recreation] invited me and it was adults only, I might participate,” Farkas said.

Despite his personal feelings, Farkas reiterated that in his position, he swore an oath to represent the ward.

“When I get over a thousand concerned questions, I have to take them to heart.”

Farkas said that there were many similar questions in regards to the event, including a potential sexualized nature, the protection and comfort of children, whether or not a public facility should be used for nude events, and how other cities have dealt with similar situations.

Some concerned citizens have not raised questions with their local representatives and instead threatened participants with exposure and violence.

The Calgary Police Service put out a statement confirming that they received a report of a threat to the Southland Leisure Centre in response to the naked swim.

“District officers responded at the time of the incident and determined there was no immediate danger,” the statement said.

Some of the threats were made on the Southland Leisure Centre’s Facebook page, and involved bringing “cameras and baseball bats” to the centre, and taking pictures of those participating in the nude swim and labelling the involved individuals as pedophiles.

Once the city’s decision to cancel the event was confirmed, Calgary Nude Recreation in a statement said, “it’s outrageous that lawful recreation can be prohibited by an incredibly vocal minority.”

The statement also said the group recognizes that the City of Calgary, “is not the bad guy here.”

Despite that, the statement goes on to say they will take legal action against the city to ensure that future events in the nude can still happen.

One of the final points their statement makes, is to declare their new mission “to establish a legal clothing optional stretch of river within reasonable distance of the city centre.”

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