Langley RCMP have issued at least two tickets to the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley for continuing to hold services despite public health orders. (Langley Advance Times file)

Langley RCMP have issued at least two tickets to the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley for continuing to hold services despite public health orders. (Langley Advance Times file)

Injunction sought against Fraser Valley churches defying B.C. health orders

Churches in Langley and Chilliwack have continued to hold services.

The B.C. government and Dr. Bonnie Henry are seeking a court injunction this Friday against three Fraser Valley churches that have denied public health orders to cease holding in-person services.

Langley’s Riverside Calvary Chapel, along with Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack took the government to court in January.

They have petitioned a judge 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 lawyers for the churches.

The churches also asked that tickets issued against them, amounting to thousands of dollars in fines, be dismissed. The petition to the court characterizes the government’s health orders as an “abuse of government power” and “draconian.”

Lawyers for the B.C. government and Henry filed a response to the churches’ legal action on Feb. 2, opposing every action the churches asked the courts to take.

The health orders in question were put in place in November. They shut down a number of types of gatherings, including weddings and movie theatre showings, but allowed for some others to continue, including limited seatings in restaurants.

READ MORE: Langley church fined a second time for ignoring COVID ban on gatherings

But by November, the number of COVID-19 cases was spiking in B.C., and the government response argues that the province “faced exponential growth in transmission. A number of the clusters were linked to religious events.”

The ban “does not apply to online services, drive-through services, individual meetings with religious leaders or to private prayer or contemplation,” the government noted.

Riverside Calvary Chapel noted that it did initially halt all services during the early part of the pandemic, and resumed them in late May under the 50-person rule that was in effect through the summer and early fall.

The churches are being represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. The conservative Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) has applied to intervene in the case to argue on Charter of Rights issues as well.

The Friday hearing on the injunction order is to be held at 10 a.m. in the Vancouver courthouse.

The majority of churches in Langley and around the Fraser Valley have switched to either virtual services via computer, or are holding “drive in” services in parking lots where families stay in their cars to hear the sermon.


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

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicschilliwackCoronavirusLangleyReligion

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

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Dave Wallace and David Askew with Askew’s Foods present a $500 cheque on March 2 to Chrissy Deye and Monica Kriese with the volunteer-run Food With Friends free lunch program. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm Food with Friends free lunch program receives support

Funds from Askew’s to help volunteers keep meals coming four days per week

Okanagan College, Vernon campus. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
Student housing coming to Vernon, Salmon Arm

Province announces $66M for new student beds for Okanagan College campuses

A fire truck and police car park at the entrance to the Foreshore Trail about 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 4 as fire crews respond to a report of a fire farther down the trail and just above the railway tracks, between Lakeshore Road and the tracks. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm Fire Department quickly extinguishes fire above Foreshore Trail

Blaze started when man’s campfire catches fuel containers on fire

About 50 people gathered Friday, March 5, 2021 in Penticton to protest city council’s decision to close a temporary winter shelter. (Jesse Day - Western News)
WATCH: Protest over Penticton shelter draws large crowd

People are gathering in Gyro Park to protest the closure of a winter shelter

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

Two shepherds on Queest Mountain pose for a photo in front of the A-Frame tent they camp out in while tending their flock in the year 1930. 
(Sicamous and District Historical Society photo)
Shuswap History in photos: Shepherds’ Camp

A pair of 1930s shepherds pose for a photo in the camp they called home while tending a flock.

Paramjit Bogarh, connected to the murder of his wife in Vernon 35 years ago, has been relerased on full parole, one year after he was sentenced to five years in prison for accessory after the fact. (Contributed)
Full parole for ex-Okanagan man who helped wife’s alleged killer escape

Paramjit Bogarh pleaded guilty to accessory to murder after helping brother flee Canada

The Princeton Traditional Music Festival, normally held in August, was denied a grant due to COVID. (File photo)
COVID makes some of the 2021 grant decisions for Princeton council

Municipality doles out funds while striving to meet policy

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Most Read