Should street preachers obtain a noise permit from the city?

Buskers who want to perform on transit property need to obtain permits. The report suggests the city could handle street preachers the same way although the issue would need additional study.
Coun. Michael Oshry has received many complaints about noisy street preachers. (CBC )

People who want to preach on the street using an amplifier may soon have to obtain a noise permit from the city of Edmonton.

In a report for a committee meeting next week, city administration examined ways to deal with the street preachers who have popped up in downtown Edmonton over the past year.

Buskers who want to perform on transit property need to obtain permits. The report suggests the city could handle street preachers the same way although the issue would need additional study.

The city could also keep preachers from setting up right outside entrances to buildings

Coun. Michael Oshry asked administration for a report after receiving a number of complaints about street preachers. He says people are concerned about the noise the preachers make, not about the content of their message.

"I've received some complaints from business owners and people who live nearby and work nearby that they had to sit there all day listening to somebody yelling through a microphone," Oshry said.

"Which is why I put in the inquiry and hopefully there's something that we can do about it."

It's a tricky issue. The report notes that only a small percentage of noise complaints relate to proselytizers, street performers and buskers.

Bylaw officers have the power to ask people to move or reduce the volume, but they can't change the content of someone's message.

A bylaw change could also affect how the city regulates outdoor concerts, festivals and sporting events.

Councillors will look at information in the report at Monday's community services committee meeting.

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