Langley RCMP has twice issued fines to Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)

Langley RCMP has twice issued fines to Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)

B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

A provincial government proposal to permit limited in-person attendance by members of three churches in Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack was described by their lawyer, Paul Jaffe, as “a tiny little baby step” that doesn’t go far enough.

Jaffe confirmed the proposal was made after an application by the province for a court injunction was rejected.

It would allow outdoor services of no more than 25 members, with no singing, mandatory masks and no socializing after services, something Jaffe said was less than the churches were allowed during a brief period during the pandemic when in-person worship was allowed.

Jaffe called that “a giant leap backward” that is “absolutely unacceptable.”

READ MORE: No injunction against Fraser Valley churches holding services violating health orders

Jaffe views the proposal as “a strategic move on the courthouse steps” before a judge hears an application by the churches to have the ban overturned on Monday.

He said the proposal was made after the churches advised they would be seeking an exemption from the in-person worship ban.

All three churches have continued to hold services in defiance of the bans, and in January they petitioned the court to lift orders that banned or restricted public gatherings, “as they unjustifiably infringe the rights and freedoms of the petitioners [the churches] guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” according to the claim filed by their lawyers.

The B.C. government Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, have argued the restrictions are necessary to control the pandemic, which has killed more than 1,300 British Columbians.

“Churches simply want to be treated equally,” Jaffe said.

The churches have been using physical distancing, hand sanitizer, and contact tracing, Jaffe said.

READ ALSO: Pastor of Langley church fined for in-person services speaks out against harassment of person who reported them

In dismissing the application for an injunction, Justice Christopher Hinkson, the chief justice of the B.C. Supreme Court, said the 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.

“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.


Is there more to the story? Email: dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

abbotsfordchilliwackCoronavirusLangleyReligion

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

 

Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church at 35063 Page Rd. in Abbotsford is among three Fraser Valley churches that the B.C. government is trying to get a court injunction against for holding in-person services. Public health orders issued in November have banned such gatherings. (Google Maps)

Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church at 35063 Page Rd. in Abbotsford is among three Fraser Valley churches that the B.C. government is trying to get a court injunction against for holding in-person services. Public health orders issued in November have banned such gatherings. (Google Maps)

Just Posted

The District of North Saanich has issued a notice to remove this floating structure from the waters off Lillan Hoffar Park. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Boat owner ordered to vacate waters off North Saanich park

Couple have been living in floating structure off Lillian Hoffar Park for a number of years

Esquimalt High School is one of six Greater Victoria schools that reported a COVID-19 exposure over the weekend. (Black Press Media file photo)
Six new Greater Victoria school exposures reported over weekend

Steady rise in school exposures since return from spring break

Passengers in rows four to 10 onboard WestJet flight 449 from Calgary to Victoria April 6 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Flight from Calgary to Victoria added to COVID-19 exposure list

Passengers onboard WestJet flight 449 April 6 affected

Paramedic Matthew Schlatter of Victoria is living a fuller life today due to the double lung transplant he received in 2019. He encourages B.C. residents to register as an organ donor and let their families know their wishes. (Instagram/Matthew Schlatter)
Victoria man living a full, active life after double lung transplant

Matt Schlatter encourages people to register as an organ donor to help others live

Victoria Police’s Explosive Disposal Unit came to Oak Bay April 10 to destroy a potentially dangrous explosive device that washed up on shore. (Oak Bay RCMP photo)
Washed-up explosive device destroyed by VicPD bomb squad

An Oak Bay resident called in the potentially dangerous debris

People take part in an anti-curfew protest in Montreal on Sunday April 11, 2021. Hundreds of people gathered in Old Montreal tonight in defiance of a new 8 p.m. curfew. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giuseppe Valiante
VIDEO: Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

Quebec reported 1,535 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, as well as five additional deaths linked to the virus

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Most Read