Reply from Mayor Nenshi’s office.
Thank you for contacting Mayor Nenshi regarding the recent trespassing arrest of Artur Pawlowski (aka The Street Preacher) at City Hall, as reported by media personality Ezra Levant. The column written by Mr. Levant and published in several Sun Media news papers (“All Means All”) contains several significant errors.
Mayor Nenshi did not call in the police, nor a private security team, to evict Mr. Pawlowski from City Hall. City security discovered that Mr. Pawlowski had refused to submit the necessary paperwork to use the City Hall Atrium in the manner he wished. The decision to call the Police was made by the City’s security staff when Mr. Pawlowski refused to leave the Atrium following this discovery.
Any group who wishes to use City Hall for their own purposes must apply to do so through the City Clerk’s office. This is not a new process; it has been in place since before Mayor Nenshi took office and is there to ensure that there is adequate space, security, and insurance for any group that is going to gather in the Atrium. Mr. Pawlowski used the City Hall Atrium to preach earlier this fall without obtaining approval to do so. At that time, he was advised that he would need to follow the established process and apply for permission to host any future gatherings there. This procedure is the same for all groups, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or anything else. Mr. Pawlowski was well aware of the consequences of failing to apply for permission when he chose to have his Christmas gathering at City Hall.
Violating city bylaws is nothing new for Mr. Pawlowski, as he has been charged with more than 70 violations over the past six years, most of which were a result of citizen complaints about his use of amplification equipment in public spaces. In the last court judgement on this matter, the courts upheld The City’s right to enforce its bylaws, a decision Mr. Pawlowski is appealing. This is not an issue about religion, but about an individual being advised of the proper procedure and failing to follow it. In fact, Mayor Nenshi has said that the Street Church is welcome to use the Atrium for their gatherings, provided they follow the proper process.
The City of Calgary’s approach to the Occupy Calgary protest was to obtain a municipal injunction against the protest to have it evicted from Olympic Plaza. Building the case for the injunction – and doing our best to ensure it would be successful – took time and this approach was applauded by the Courts as being a fair balancing of everyone’s rights. This was the procedure followed by most major Canadian cities.
Please feel free to contact Mayor Nenshi with any additional questions or comments.