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

Just Posted

Jimmy Seymour was recognized for his outstanding work as the solid waste operator for Stz’uminus First Nation. (Submitted photo)
Top Jimmy: Ladysmith-area man takes your trash, leaves a smile

Jimmy Seymour uses his job as solid waste operator to spread kindness through Stz’uminus First Nation

Proprietor of Sweet Truck, Morgan Ray, as she hands off her baked goods to a customer. (Photo courtesy of Avrinder Dhillon Photography)
Vancouver Island baker eyes move back from food truck to bricks and mortar

Storefront offers more stability amid growth in sales: Ray

Emissions from the City of Abbotsford's vehicles make up the largest share of the municipality's emissions.
File photo
Vancouver Island councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay’s Will Cole-Hamilton pushing for building emission legislation

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Thousands protested in Victoria following the death of George Floyd in the U.S. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. not exempt: New report documents 150 years of racism and the fight against it

Booklet marks province’s 150th anniversary with call for transparency, change

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

A mobile home fire prompted a quick response from firefighters Saturday around 3:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Mobile home up in flames at Duncan RV Park

One patient burned, EHS on scene

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Works crews have begun to install roads and other infrastructure to service the Nigel Valley redevelopment project that will bring nearly 800 new housing units to Saanich over the next several years. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Prep work begins on massive Nigel Valley development in Saanich

Construction of first two developments expected to begin fall 2021, B.C. Housing says

Gregory Ould, co-founder and executive director of Blanket BC, drops off warming blankets to Our Home on Eighth shelter in Port Alberni during a tour of Vancouver Island on Feb. 19, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Blanket BC delivers warmth, hope to Vancouver Island’s homeless

Gregory Ould donated blankets, toques in five communities

Duncan Christian’s Grace George lines up a shot during the three-point portion of the BC School Sports Pandemic Basketball Challenge after taking a pass from Cam Stevens. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan Christian leads the way in pandemic basketball challenge

School tops participation numbers for second time this year

The shadow cast of the Satyr Players production of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’: Linda Dohmeier as Dr. Scott, Olivia Erickson as Columbia, Brandon Caul as Rocky, Christopher Carter as Brad, Charlie Prince as Eddie, Branden Martell as Riff Raff, Jenna Morgan as Magenta, Megan Rhode as Janet and Adrien Kennedy as Dr. Frank-N-Furter (clockwise from left). (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
VIU student actors go online for 25th-annual ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’

Satyr Players theatre company to broadcast pre-recorded shadow production

Most Read