Chilliwack Free Reformed Church on Yale Road (seen on Dec. 1, 2020), was one of three churches, including in Langley and Abbotsford, involved in the petition to the court and the injunction fight. (Black Press Media files)

Chilliwack Free Reformed Church on Yale Road (seen on Dec. 1, 2020), was one of three churches, including in Langley and Abbotsford, involved in the petition to the court and the injunction fight. (Black Press Media files)

No injunction against Fraser Valley churches holding services in violation of health orders

B.C.’s chief justice denied an application for an injunction Wednesday morning

There will be no injunction blocking three Fraser Valley churches from continuing to hold services in violation of ongoing provincial health orders.

Justice Christopher Hinkson, the chief justice of the B.C. Supreme Court, dismissed the province’s application for an injunction Wednesday morning.

“To be clear, I am not condoning the petitioners’ [churches] conduct in contravention of the orders that they challenge, but find that the injunctive relief sought by the respondents should not be granted,” Hinkson wrote in his decision.

His ruling was founded largely on the grounds that the province didn’t need the courts to intervene with an injunction – there are already other powers the government can use to enforce the health orders.

He noted that in Chilliwack, RCMP officers had told the church members they could face “up to six months in jail and massive fines, upwards of $50,000.”

He also noted that in some recent cases, including an injunction issued by the courts against protesters at the Vancouver Port Authority, police and the B.C. Prosecution Service have declined to enforce the injunction once it was issued.

“I am left to wonder what would be achieved by the issuance of an injunction in this case,” Hinkson wrote.

The court battle was started by the churches, who are being represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. They petitioned the B.C. courts to allow them to continue meeting for religious worship.

The three churches are Langley’s Riverside Calvary Chapel, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford, and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack.

As the court battle continued, the provincial government applied for the injunction to stop church attendance, at least until the court case is settled.

An injunction could have allowed police to potentially arrest or physically bar people from attending the three churches.

Lawyer Gareth Morley, representing the Attorney General of B.C. and Dr. Bonnie Henry, argued last week that the injunction was necessary to stop gatherings after the three churches had all defied orders that closed churches for in-person indoor services in November.

The churches have received fines of up to $2,300 per incident, although local police and bylaw officers have not turned up every Sunday.

Paul Jaffe, the lawyer representing the churches, argued that there was no scientific evidence the churches were a risk to spread the coronavirus. He also suggested the banning of religious meetings was “vindictive.”

“My clients can be detained on an officer’s belief that they are going to pray. It’s incredible,” he said.

Morley had countered that the health orders were based on type of gathering, not on whether or not they were religious gatherings.

Read More: Lawyers spar over injunction against Fraser Valley Churches defying health orders

Hinkson is expected to hear the main arguments between the two sides in a court case scheduled to begin on March 1.


Have a story tip? Email: matthew.claxton@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

abbotsfordchilliwackCoronavirusFraser HealthLangleyReligion

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pixabay.
Calling on Central Okanagan volunteers to apply for scholarship

The Central Okanagan Foundation is now accepting applications for its annual Volunteer Spirit Scholarships

Farmer Bob at the Farmers Market in Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)
Kelowna farmers’ market manager wins BC Farmers’ Market Award

The awards were given out via a virtual conference in mid-February

Kelowna Olympian Malindi Elmore has been honoured locally for her contributions to the sport of running. She is one of five Okanagan athletes who received an athletic excellence award from PacificSport Okanagan, this week. (Contributed/UBC Okanagan)
Kelowna athletes, coaches, businesses honoured for achievements during pandemic

Among them, Kelowna’s Malindi Elmore and Jacob Rubuliak named Community Sport Heroes

The City Park dock in Kelowna was underwater due to rising Okanagan Lake flooding in 2017. (OBWB photo)
Okanagan facing extreme flooding risk

Water board calls for updated Okanagan Lake level management

On June 23, 2020, Sunrise Rotary announced it will be donating $50,000 in support of the Bridge Youth and Family Services for the construction of the “Okanagan Youth Recovery House” project for young people under the age of 19 who are experiencing addiction. (Contributed)
Interior Health adds 10 youth substance-use treatment beds in Kelowna

The Bridge Youth and Family Services will operate the beds

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

The restart of the program means seniors can receive affordable meals delivered five days a week Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post.
Princeton Meals of Wheels one year trial will cost $92k

Program restarts, and volunteer drivers are needed

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Two Vancouver police officers were struck by a car when the driver learned he was being arrested for allegedly using a fraudulent credit card to pay for food. (Vancouver Police Department)
Driver being arrested for alleged food order fraud rams Vancouver police with car

Two officers are in stable condition, suffering with soft tissue injuries following the incident

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Accident rates, injury claims and court costs have driven ICBC into deficit in recent years. (Black Press Media)
Judge rejects taking lawyers out of minor ICBC injury cases

Ruling the latest setback for B.C. NDP’s insurance cost reforms

Most Read