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.

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

Just Posted

Protest in Penticton. Jesse Day, Penticton Western News.
Protest underway in Penticton

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

Premier John Horgan looks on during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, February 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Premier touches on protest, housing controversy in Penticton

Protesters have said they plan to go on despite police warning

Penticton’s Law Courts.	(File)
Penticton beach attacker to serve two more years behind bars

Thomas Kruger-Allen was sentenced in a Penticton court on Friday

Hundreds gather in Penticton in June 2020, for the Black Lives Matter protest. (Phil McLachlan, Black Press Media)
Penticton residents fire back at RCMP over right to protests during pandemic

As long as COVID-19 safety measures are maintained, citizens have a right to protest

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

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

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
B.C. dentists and bus drivers want newly-approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

BC Dental Association says dentists and their teams cannot treat patients remotely

Most Read