There are a select group of people who enjoy the freedom of being in the buff. According to the Canadian Federation of Nudists, about 20 percent of Canadians have either participated in nude swimming or been to a naturist/nude beach or resort. Yet not everyone is happy about people taking off all their clothes in public.
There has been a bit of controversy over a nude swimming event planned at a Calgary recreation centre later this month. The event is described as a private after-hours function. Calgary Nude Recreation, which calls itself “a group of like-minded people who enjoy being in their birthday suit!” is hosting the event. The club stresses that it is family friendly and advocates non-sexual social nudity.
The city of Calgary is currently deciding whether the event should take place. They said in a statement: “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.”
The club notes that participants will be able to enjoy water slides, a wave pool, hot tub and steam room. They noted on their Facebook page: “Did I mention you can be naked?!? Yes, all the way naked, just as you entered this world…Everyone of all body types, genders, and sexual orientations are welcome! If you have a body and are still alive, this event is for YOU!”
Despite the current controversy, naturist groups have been holding nude swimming events at public pools for decades in Canada.
“We are everyday people … who just prefer and are more comfortable living as much as possible in the nude lifestyle — and using a city pool nude,” Ray Jorritsma with the Edmonton Naturists Swim Group, told CBC.ca.
Earlier this month, a woman named April Parker started a petition to cancel the event or at the very least ban children from participating. More than 10,000 people have signed it. According to Parker, “Sexual predators will be on the prowl. Having an event like that is just like Christmas to them.”
One Facebook user commented on the club’s page: “What measures do you have in place for your nude swim, all ages encouraged, to prevent pictures from being taken of minors without their consent? Are you doing background checks to ensure no sexual deviants are participating?”
The club defended itself on its Facebook page, writing: “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.”
Following media coverage of the Calgary event, the club changed its policy. Nudity is required for men, while women, at a minimum, must be topless. Meanwhile, “other genders need to determine what is [sic] appropriate for themselves.”
The event, which is sold out, is scheduled to take place on Jan. 14. The cost was $20 per person for an advanced ticket.
It isn’t the first time a nudist group has made headlines for using public pools. The Surrey Skinnydippers in British Columbia sued the city in 2013 after they were banned from renting the Newton Wave pool following the publication of a newspaper article about their club. It took them four years, but they eventually regained access to the pool.