An Edmonton Transit Service policy requires media workers to ask permission before “reporting, filming or conducting business” on transit property.
The policy was described in an Oct. 31, 2023, news release from the City of Edmonton, announcing a media ride-along on the city’s new LRT line. The policy reads: “For the mutual safety of media and transit riders, media are required to notify the City of Edmonton prior to reporting, filming or conducting business on ETS property … Doing so helps us ensure media activities will not interfere with our ability to provide safe and effective service to riders.”
The policy adds that requests for access are monitored “during weekday business hours,” and that “24 hours’ notice is appreciated, whenever possible.”
According to the description in the news release, the policy covers buses, trains and transit centres, as well as stations on Edmonton’s LRT line and stops on the city’s Valley Line Southeast, a street-level LRT line opened in November 2023.
In a statement sent to the Canada Press Freedom Project, a City of Edmonton spokesperson said that “there is no formal policy regarding filming on ETS property; Media are welcome in public spaces.”
“Media are not required to obtain a permit for regular business. We ask the media to provide advance notice of their intention to film as this allows communications staff to make any necessary advance arrangements – to the benefit of riders and media members, alike,” the statement read. “Should media film, or ‘conduct business’ on ETS property, we would request that advance notice is provided in the future for the reasons outlined above. In the vast majority of cases, the media do reach out to notify City communications, which is always appreciated, and we do our best to accommodate all requests quickly and efficiently.”
The Edmonton Journal reported that “multiple” journalists in the city confirmed that they have previously been told to ask permission before reporting on ETS property. “Some said they have been asked to leave or were challenged by security guards at transit stations if they didn’t get prior approval,” reported the Journal.
“This policy appears to be an attempt to chill journalists from reporting on important matters that ETS likely prefers media not cover such as rampant open drug use in LRT stations and potential problems with the much-delayed Valley Line southeast,” wrote lawyer Josh Dehaas of the Canadian Constitution Foundation in a letter calling for the policy to be revoked.