Loudspeaker preacher, city at impasse
Bylaw officers threaten to pull licence over noise
KERRY WILLIAMSON CALGARY HERALD
A controversial street preacher may have his permit to spread the Gospel at a downtown park revoked, the latest development in city attempts to have Art Pawlowski turn down the volume. City lawyers met Pawlowski and his lawyer, Ivan Bernardo, on Thursday in an attempt to reach a compromise over the preacher’s use ofloudspeakers dur-ing sermons at Triangle Park, across from the Calgary Drop-In Centre. However, no compromise was reached and bylaw officers could re-voke his licence to preach in the park if Pawlowski returns with loudspeakers tonight, as planned.
"We’ve done everything we can to reach compliance," said Greg Stein-raths, acting director of the city’s by¬law department. "Now it’s a matter of respecting the court, respecting the permit and, ulti-mately, one of pulling the permit. We are doing everything we can to help him achieve compliance, but our op¬tions are becoming more limited."
Pawlowski was given four tickets, to-talling $365, by bylaw officers Sunday, after he amplified his message and parked a pickup truck with a large cross on the grass.
He toned down his sermon Monday evening, using a smaller speaker that he carried over his shoulder; however, bylaw officers say that was also a breach of his permit. The city revoked Pawlowski’s right to use amplifiers last year – a decision backed up in court – after about 100 people complained about the noise.
Pawlowski shows little sign of backing down. He told the Herald he will con-tinue to use speakers, and that he does not believe he is breaking any laws. "We are going to have our speakers in the park, and we’re going to preach to those who need the message of hope, and we believe there’s nothing wrong with that," he said. "We will not back out, and we won’t move away from that park. Even if they take our permits away, we’re going to be there regardless. "Let them arrest roo volunteers that are taking people off the streets. That would be a total embarrassment for the city." Nearby residents said the city should crack down on Pawlowski. Alex MacNeil, who lives across the Bow River in Crescent Heights, said he has complained numerous times and is tired of hearing the preacher. "When it’s reasonably loud, I can easily hear everything he is saying," said MacNeil. "It’s just so intrusive:’
Pawlowski claims he needs his speakers to drown out traffic noise from the nearby 4th Avenue flyover. His group, Street Church Ministries, says it has helped at least 400 home¬less people into transitional housing.