Bylaw unfairly silences street preacher: lawyer

By Daryl Slade, Calgary Herald

A broad bylaw is infringing on a street preacher’s right to exercise his freedom of religion and expression in a downtown park, his lawyer argued Friday.

Michael Bates, who represents Street Church Evangelism Ministries, run by Art Pawlowski, told the judge that requiring permits may be necessary, but only for safety and property-protection issues.

His client, he said, should be acquitted on all but one of 13 charges stemming from events at the now-developed area known as Triangle Park on Dec. 23, 2007, March 23 and April 7, 2008.

Bates said Pawlowski was trying to send a message about the plight of the homeless. "He’s trying to get the government to pay attention to what’s happening in a big city," said Bates. "But Triangle Park was not a park as we know it. It was filled with the most disadvantaged people, many with serious addictions."

The church is charged with operating an amplification system; placing a sign in a park, offering or giving away free goods and services (food) in a park and doing anything likely to attract a crowd. It is also charged with operating a barbecue or stove where prohibited.

City lawyer Ola Malik argued the church had an appeal process with the city when it had its 2007 permit revoked, so it cannot claim its rights were infringed when it did not take advantage of them at the time. He said the church should have known its rights, because it had applied for 13 permits between 2005 and 2007.

Brown reserved her decision to Nov. 1.

dslade@theherald.canwest.com

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