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

Sooke Lake Reservoir, shown here, is the primary storage site for Greater Victoria’s drinking water supply. The Capital Regional District just purchased a property on the north edge of the water supply area to help further protect the supply. (Photo courtesy CRD)
CRD acquires 58.7-hectare watershed to further protect Greater Victoria drinking water supply

Forested area near Grant Lake is part of the Cowichan Valley Regional District

The Sooke Fine Arts Show will be online again this year, showcasing unique artworks from Vancouver Island and B.C.’s coastal island artists from July 23 to Aug. 2. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke Fine Arts Show goes virtual for second year in a row

Art exhibition and show set for July 23 to Aug. 2

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner’s report confirms cause of death of three men at Sooke River in 2020

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen drown while ‘puddle-jumping’ in pickup truck

Amy Morrison was surprised to find a note on her windshield for parking on a public street with no restrictions in south Oak Bay where she works. (Amy Morrison Photo)
Oak Bay resident uses notes to claim street parking

‘You must have noticed, we park in front of OUR HOUSE,’ note writer says

The Pacheedaht First Nation is planning a $1-million expansion to its campground in Port Renfrew. (Pixabay photo)
Expanded camping announced for Pacheedaht Campground

$1-million project is part of the B.C. Rural Economic Recovery program

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read