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Cold Lake Council considering parade policy changes

Cold Lake Council is thinking of updating a policy that would govern parades and floats and set boundaries on messaging that can appear during public events.

Right now parades were governed under several policies requiring a permit, a road closure, fire and police services being consulted with on the route, and that general information about the organization hosting the parade and the event itself is provided.

“Council noticed that our existing bylaws and policies covered the basic traffic and safety issues, but wanted to also ensure we had the opportunity to take a more complete view of the subject matter and content,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “Administration was able to point out several areas where other communities do provide guidance for parade organizers, and we will see if we want to provide similar guidance in the context of Cold Lake’s events.”

The new policy, as presented to the council, also contains provisions that would prohibit overtly political messages as well as statements and messages that are discriminatory, incite hatred, or are unlawful.

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The draft also makes an effort to ensure parades obey the following:

  • do not interfere with public safety or the comfortable enjoyment of the community
  • The event also must not be contrary to the policies of the City of Cold Lake
  • not contain controversial content
  • does not diminish the City’s reputation

The administration noted that the current bylaws are not perfect and do not address the following:

  • The policies do not address the types of parades that can be authorized or prohibited
  • the responsibilities that organizers must undertake
  • restrictions on content for floats or messaging
  • specific safety requirements
  • equestrian regulations
  • specific regulations for marching bands or walking groups

“Our intent here is to start a conversation around a potential policy to see what additional regulations could help make sure that parades are family-friendly community events that are a safe and fun experience for all,” Copeland said. “We realize that some of the proposed definitions are subject to personal interpretation and debate, but we are confident that we can establish boundaries that will reflect the spirit of what would generally be expected at a community celebration.”

Council stated that it looks to avoid an unnecessary bureaucracy surrounding such events that would result in extra work or fees which may dissuade community groups from joining a parade.

The draft policy was presented to council as a starting point for its conversation and will be brought forward at a future Corporate Priorities Meeting for further debate, with amendments and options that reflect the feedback council provided.

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