Ban on preacher’s loudspeaker upheld
Street Church preacher Art Pawlowski says he’ll meet his lawyer and supporters before deciding whether to comply with a new injunction banning him from using amplified sound anywhere within city limits.
Ruling in favour of the city, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Bonnie Rawlins concluded an outright ban on using loudspeakers seems the only way to bring Pawlowski and the Street Church into compliance with municipal bylaws.
The new ban goes beyond the demands made by the city, which argued Pawlowski should be forbidden from using amplified sound in public places.
It’s the latest chapter in a prolonged battle between the preacher and the municipality, which told the court it has received numerous complaints from area residents about excessive noise generated by the Street Church’s three weekly outdoor meetings.
Pawlowski called Rawlins’ ruling a "total injustice" and said he and his volunteers will weigh their options before their next outdoor service, set for Friday evening at Triangle Park, at the east end of downtown.
"We’re wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fighting which I could be using to help the homeless," said Pawlowski.
Pawlowski said he needs amplified sound to reach out to drug dealers, prostitutes and others who have fallen through the gaps of general society.
"Leave me alone, let me do what I’m good at doing," he said, claiming former drug dealers now number among his volunteers and supporters.
"Feeding the people and giving them hope is not an option for me — it’s a commandment."
In a written decision released Wednesday, Rawlins called the case unfortunate.
She lauded Pawlowski for his devotion to the homeless, but added his "obstinate persistence" in fighting the city detracted from that work.
Rawlins noted Pawlowski "parsed" and violated the original order from last May that banned the use of amplified sound in parks.
The group parked a truck equipped with a loudspeaker on the street and directed sound into the park.
"I have grave concerns that limiting the ban to "public places" leaves the matter too open to interpretation and will not be sufficient to prevent further disturbance," she wrote.
The City of Calgary is pleased with the ruling, said its lawyer, Colleen Sinclair.
The city will return to court today to iron out what penalties could be imposed if Pawlowski violates the injunction.