The City of Calgary said Monday it’s reviewing a planned naked swim event in Calgary scheduled for next weekend.
“Given the attention this event has received, we are undertaking a review with the event organizer to ensure the privacy and security of participants can be maintained,” spokesperson Kaila Lagran said in an emailed statement.
Lagran said officials will be meeting Monday afternoon to discuss concerns that have been raised by members of the public and councillors.
A petition has been started to put a halt the event, with one city councillor saying the event raises issues of consent. By 1:30 p.m. on Monday it had already gained more than 9,200 signatures.
The Southland Leisure Centre has been booked by the Calgary Nude Recreation group on Jan. 14 for its first nude pool party.
The private, after-hours event has been described as “naked water slides and wave pool night,” according to the Facebook event page.
The pool and surrounding areas will be completely closed off to anyone not with the group.
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LISTEN: Jeromy Farkas shares his concerns about a naked swimming event at the Southland Leisure Centre
On Saturday, a petition was set up calling for the event to be cancelled. By Monday morning, it has garnered more than 6,000 signatures.
The petition, started by April Parker, calls for concern around having “naked children around a bunch of adults,” adding the concept “doesn’t seem like a good idea for any reason.”
In the petition, Parker warned that “children with previous sexual abuse traumas will be heavily effected (sic) if they attend the event” and “sexual predators will be on the prowl” as the event “is like Christmas to them.”
Coun. Jeromy Farkas told Global News the city has an “obligation and a duty of care” to ensure the safety and security of anyone using their facilities.
“What happens between consenting adults, it doesn’t matter to me,” Farkas said. “But the fact of the matter is that children can’t consent to having photographs taken of them, posted online or potentially shared. There are a lot of concerns I think that are warranted in this petition and really deserve a closer look.”
Calgary Nude Recreation responded to the petition late Sunday night, saying on Facebook, “The suggestion that our events should be marketed as ‘adult only’ entertainment illustrates the disconnect between what people THINK social nudity is about versus what social nudity is ACTUALLY about.”
Parker said she wants people to take this into consideration and is requesting the event be called off or at least made “age appropriate.”
Calgary Nude Recreation says on its page that it promotes “all-ages” event.
“This group is family oriented and kid friendly and open to people of all ages, body types, all genders, sexual orientations, and anyone else in between,” the page’s “about” section reads.
“Whether you like being naked or want to get more comfortable being naked, this group is for you! All recreational events associated with this group are strictly non-sexual and are intended to create a safe space to express ourselves in our most vulnerable and natural state all the while having fun!”
Parker declined an on camera interview, citing negative feedback and harassment online.
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In a statement to Global News, Parker said the main goal was to protect children.
“The petition is set mainly to protect the privacy of children and their mental well-being. The concept behind the event is a good idea (no judgement, self-acceptance) but realistically a lot of children aren’t going to grasp the concept of the event anyway,” she wrote.
“Also, like with anything, there are always a few people that can ruin it for everyone. Realistically, there’s a lot of mental illness out there and we have to protect our kids from predators any way we can. If this event is open to the public, there’s no way to weed out the bad guys,” the statement read.
The Calgary Nude Recreation event page noted their nude policy has changed “due to the media coverage and size of the group.”
“For men, nudity is required and woman are required to be topless at minimum or naked should they choose,” the statement read.
“Other genders need to determine what’s appropriate for themselves.”
Photography and video will also not be allowed at the nude swim event. The Facebook Calgary Nude Recreation group also stressed that the Southland Leisure Centre is not organizing the event.
But Farkas said Monday he has concerns after looking at the group’s Facebook page.
“There are a lot of photographs that are quite sexualized to promote similar events – and that’s really my concern,” he said.
The Ward 11 councillor said he also wants to ensure taxpayer money will not be put toward funding private events like the one in question.
Tickets, at $20 each, have been sold out. “The goal was to start this event off small and control its growth but with all the media attention, it has been expanding too quickly to maintain proper control,” a statement on the event page read.
A Global News request to the organizer of the nude swim to respond to the petition has not been returned.
LISTEN: A new petition has surfaced in Calgary which opposes the initial petition, Rob Breakenridge connects with Ben Moon who penned the second petition.