Chilliwack Free Reformed Church on Yale Road (seen on Dec. 1, 2020), was one of three churches, including in Langley and Abbotsford, involved in the petition to the court and the injunction fight. (Black Press Media files)

Chilliwack Free Reformed Church on Yale Road (seen on Dec. 1, 2020), was one of three churches, including in Langley and Abbotsford, involved in the petition to the court and the injunction fight. (Black Press Media files)

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

B.C.’s chief justice denied an application for an injunction Wednesday morning

There will be no injunction blocking three Fraser Valley churches from continuing to hold services in violation of ongoing provincial health orders.

Justice Christopher Hinkson, the chief justice of the B.C. Supreme Court, dismissed the province’s application for an injunction Wednesday morning.

“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.

His 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.

He noted that in Chilliwack, RCMP officers had told the church members they could face “up to six months in jail and massive fines, upwards of $50,000.”

He also noted that in some recent cases, including an injunction issued by the courts against protesters at the Vancouver Port Authority, police and the B.C. Prosecution Service have declined to enforce the injunction once it was issued.

“I am left to wonder what would be achieved by the issuance of an injunction in this case,” Hinkson wrote.

The court battle was started by the churches, who are being represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. They petitioned the B.C. courts to allow them to continue meeting for religious worship on Charter of Rights and Freedoms grounds.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, who along with the B.C. Attorney General was officially asking for the injunction, said in a statement later Wednesday that she respected Hinkson’s decision.

“Since the very start of the pandemic, the office of the Provincial Health Officer and leaders across government have had ongoing dialogue with faith leaders and had many respectful conversations with them on how best to protect their congregations,” Henry’s statement said.

She noted the health orders apply to everyone.

“These are legal orders that apply to everyone in our province, and most churches are following them,” Henry said.

The three churches are Langley’s Riverside Calvary Chapel, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford, and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack.

As the court battle continued, the provincial government applied for the injunction to stop church attendance, at least until the court case is settled.

An injunction could have allowed police to potentially arrest or physically bar people from attending the three churches.

Lawyer Gareth Morley, representing the Attorney General of B.C. and Dr. Bonnie Henry, argued last week that the injunction was necessary to stop gatherings after the three churches had all defied orders that closed churches for in-person indoor services in November.

The churches have received fines of up to $2,300 per incident, although local police and bylaw officers have not turned up every Sunday.

Paul Jaffe, the lawyer representing the churches, argued that there was no scientific evidence the churches were a risk to spread the coronavirus. He also suggested the banning of religious meetings was “vindictive.”

“My clients can be detained on an officer’s belief that they are going to pray. It’s incredible,” he said.

Morley had countered that the health orders were based on type of gathering, not on whether or not they were religious gatherings.

Read More: Lawyers spar over injunction against Fraser Valley Churches defying health orders

Hinkson is expected to hear the main arguments between the two sides in a court case scheduled to begin on March 1.


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

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

abbotsfordchilliwackCoronavirusFraser HealthLangleyReligion

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

Just Posted

The Kimber family of Boston Bar lost their home in a fire. Blaine Kimber’s daughter created a fundraiser to help rebuild the home with the goal of $100,000. (Screenshot/GoFundMe)
Fundraiser created for Boston Bar family that lost everything in weekend fire

Witnesses say the Kimber family escaped the fire without injury, but their home is a total loss

Part of Kent’s diking system as it passes through private property off Tramner Road. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
LETTER: Dikes and farms have a long history in Agassiz

Agassiz resident Barbara Key shares her history with dikes and farms in Agassiz

Books. (Unsplash)
LIBRARY: Who decides what makes a good book?

Agassiz librarian Sharie Hertzog shares what she thinks makes a good book in her latest column

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of March 7

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Most Read