St. Albert City Council unanimously passes motion to crack down on conversion therapy

WATCH ABOVE: St. Albert city councillors voted on Monday to crack down on conversion therapy that aims to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. Sarah Komadina reports.

City councillors in St. Albert, Alta., unanimously passed a motion on Monday afternoon to crack down on the practice of counselling people to attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

St. Albert is believed to be the first municipality in Alberta to take such steps to try to ban conversion therapy.

Mayor Cathy Heron said she hoped passing the motion would send a message to other governments and to the community that such practices are not acceptable.

“I did tear up,” Heron told reporters after the motion passed.

“Those tears were partly for the motion, partly for working with such a really good group of councillors who think progressively.”

READ MORE: Banning conversion therapy: Alberta creates working group to make recommendations

Watch below: (From September 2018) Alberta LGBTQ2 advocates are elated following news the provincial government could end conversion therapy.

The motion that was passed by St. Albert City Council was to allow for changing local land use and business licensing bylaws to clarify that conversion therapy is “neither a permitted nor a discretionary use in any land use classification.”

LISTEN BELOW: St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron joins the Ryan Jespersen Show on 630 CHED

The motion also sought to establish that “conversion therapy is not a lawful business activity in St. Albert and no business licence shall be issued for any person or organization that has conversion therapy as part of its business activities.”

READ MORE: ‘I believed something was wrong with me’: Edmonton man calls for conversion therapy ban

The bylaw changes still need to be drafted and then approved by council, something that is expected to happen before the end of the year. Once the changes are approved, city councillors would like a $10,000 fine for anyone who offers or advertises conversion therapy services to young people.

Mervin Gallant, a minister with the St. Albert United Church, addressed city council before the motion came up for a vote.

“There are hundreds of churches across the country, in the United Church, that try to be inclusive and supportive of folk wherever they’re at, and so this is one more opportunity to make that a public offering,” Gallant said of why he supported such a ban on conversion therapy.

Last month, Global News obtained an email sent out by Alberta’s health minister that raised questions about how the work of a group that is supposed to make a plan to ban the controversial practice in Alberta will continue.

READ MORE: Email from Alberta health minister offers mixed message on conversion therapy group’s status

“As you know, the working group was an informal body named by the former NDP minister to meet over a period of five months and then provide advice,” an email sent from Health Minister Tyler Shandro to the working group read.

“While the group’s informal nature and lack of official status means that whatever mandate it had effectively lapsed with the change of government, I have nevertheless invited you to submit your advice to me, including any recommendations or other input that you want to bring forward at the end of the five-month period.”

Councillor Jacquie Hansen said Monday that she was keen to get the federal and provincial governments involved in a plan to address conversion therapy but that it was important for St. Albert, located just a few kilometres north of Edmonton, to do its part.

–With files from Global News’ Sarah Komadina

READ MORE: Calgary Pride calls for city ban on conversion therapy as Albertans rally outside legislature

Watch below: (From June 6, 2019) Albertans raise their voices about the controversial practice known as conversion therapy.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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