A battle over baring it all at a planned naked swimming event in Calgary is starting to boil over as thousands of people are chiming into the debate.
More than 16,000 people across the world have signed an online petition to have Calgary Nude Recreation’s “family friendly” nude pool party either cancelled or changed so children could not attend.
Another 3,000 have signed a second petition started on Monday to end that initial petition, showing their support for swimming in the buff.
“What people do in their own private time is up to them,” Kelly Ernst, president of the Civil Liberties Association, said Tuesday. “Who am I to tell people how to live?”
The City of Calgary confirmed on Monday it was reviewing the event to ensure the privacy and safety of everyone in attendance.
It also confirmed that “naturalist bookings have occurred at city facilities on a regular basis for decades.”
City councillor Jeromy Farkas voiced his concern with the proposed party, which is expected to feature a water slide and wave pool, saying the fact that children could attend raised the issue of consent.
In the eyes of Calgary Nude Recreation, concerns like that, along with other objections to the event, are proof that people are closed-minded to the idea of nude events.
“This clearly shows how baseless the concerns are of people who have no desires to attend such an event,” the group said in an emailed statement.
“We believe the outrage should lie in the outrage over the human body that is currently dominating the media in Calgary.”
Despite the public backlash and the fact the city is reviewing the event, Calgary Nude Recreation vowed the swim will go on, and didn’t rule out the possibility of legal action should the city decide not to honour its reservation at the Southland Leisure Centre.
“This is the only place we get to have non-sexual naked fun with like-minded individuals. We recognize and are OK with the fact that these events are not suitable for everyone,” the group said.
In 2007, a nudist group successfully sued the City of Surrey, B.C. after it cancelled a naked swim.
Calgary lawyer Howard Anglin, who now works at the Canadian Constitution Foundation, said the city would have to “come up with a very good reason” if it was going to stop the swim.
“It makes it very hard for the city to come up with a justification that would withstand judicial scrutiny,” he said.
“It would have to be more than protectoral reason. There would have to be general concern for safety and security. I think it would be a high bar for the city to establish that.”
He added he didn’t see how privacy would be any different for families or children at nude beaches or other pools.
Naked swimming events have been happening in cities all across Canada for years, including Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa.
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