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

Terrace Community Fund was able to set up the Dare to Dream Fund with a significant donation from Trumpeter Donnie Clark. (File photo)
Dare to Dream Fund set up after a large donation from musician Donnie Clark

The fund will provide financial support for the Dare to Dream music program in Terrace and Thornhill

The average selling price of a single-family home in Terrace has climbed 26 per cent in the last year. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)
House prices soar in Terrace

Average prices increased by 26 per cent

Nurse Vicki Niemi administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Joyce, 88, on Mar. 23, 2020 at the Terrace Sportsplex. All adults in Terrace are now eligible to register for a COVID-19 vaccination. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
All adults in Terrace can now register for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment

Community members can register by calling 833-838-2323 or visiting getvaccinated.gov.bc.ca

April 2020 to March 2021 was the second wettest year on record since at least 1969, according to Environment Canada. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
VIDEO: Terrace records wettest spell in over a half-century

Terrace saw close to 1,500 millimetres of precipitation between April 2020 and March 2021

Terrace fire department responded to a call from Skeena Saw Mills at the early hours of Friday morning. (Binny Paul/ Terrace Standard)
UPDATE: Fire crews respond to early morning incident at Skeena Sawmills

No injuries were reported as mill workers immediately alerted the fire department after seeing smoke

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

A volunteer disinfects a historical Mohabat Khan mosque ahead of the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, April 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
For Canadian Muslims, second pandemic Ramadan is a time of hope and sadness

Many members of the association are trying to find ways ‘to help people stay connected to one another’

South Surrey farmland, March 2020. The province’s crackdown on secondary residences sparked protests that have the NDP government engaged in a lengthy rewrite of its legislation. (Tracy Holmes/Peace Arch News)
B.C. NDP now wants to keep even ‘non-farmers’ on the land

‘Grandfathering’ of second residences extended again

Most Read