The city of Guelph held a public meeting on Saturday to discuss a public nuisance bylaw, which would allow city staff and Guelph Police to better deal with protests and out-of-control parties.

Residents had the opportunity to speak out in favour or in opposition to the proposed bylaw at the meeting.

“I believe the bylaw addresses something that has been needed for quite a while,” says Wayne Huck.

James Gordon feels differently. “There is a fear that it doesn’t represent the values of this particular community.”

City staff says the proposed bylaw is intended to regulate unwanted activities on public or private property. That includes large parties, camping on public property, the distribution on flyers, and lengthy protests.

According to the proposed bylaw, protest organizers would be required to obtain a permit.

That idea doesn’t sit well with some residents. They worry that the bylaw would give the city the power to decide who can protest, and for how long.

“There is something uncomfortable and maybe just plain wrong about that idea,” says Rob Case. “If I want to protest city hall, I have to go to city hall and get a permit to stage a protest. That seems anti-democratic.”

The bylaw has not yet been approved. “The bylaw that everyone is looking at is just a starting point for communication,” says Doug Gofrey, the manager of bylaw compliance.

The city will accept suggestions on the proposed bylaw until December 7th. Residents can email