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

Students from SD62 stepped up to help members in the community with the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive. This year’s organizers had to adapt during the campaign as COIVD-19 public health orders changed. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore students step up to make sure community members don’t go without

Students of SD62 are this year’s recipient of the Youth Volunteer Award

Millstream Village is welcoming a new Marshalls location March 9. (Photo courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)
New Marshalls store in Langford brings boost to women in need

Retailer will hold opening ceremony in Millstream Village March 9

A cat died in this house fire in Sidney afternoon. The fire started on the house’s deck and spread from that point. Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said the permanent presence of crews at the Community Safety Building prevented worse damage. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Firth)
Sidney house fire kills cat, causes extensive damage

Official says fire started on deck and damage to the house could have been worse

Each recipient of a 2021 Local Hero Award will receive a hand-carved paddle created by Haida artist John Bellis.
Meet the man behind the awards

Haida artist John Bellis hand-carved this year’s Local Hero awards

Abstract Developments is donating $75,000 to support community programming at The Cridge Centre for the Family. (Courtesy of The Cridge Centre)
Victoria developer builds support for community programs

Abstract Developments donates $75,000 to The Cridge Centre for the Family

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
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

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read