A Langley church has been fined a second time for defying provincial orders against large gatherings during the pandemic.
Langley RCMP Cpl. Holly Largy said a ticket was issued against the Riverside Calvary Church in the 9600-block of 201st Street on Sunday, Jan. 3 “for conducting an in-person service in contravention of the Provincial Health Order on Sunday.”
“Attendees were seen in the church without masks during the service,” Largy added.
It was a welcome development for Dena Fyfe, owner of the Buhf Beauty Boutique, which is located in the same building complex as the church.
“That was good to see,” Fyfe told the Langley Advance Times.
She had just had another morning of clients complaining that they had to walk past groups of people heading to the church without masks.
“My parking lot was overflowing.”
Fyfe said she made repeated phone calls to police about the church services, because she could easily see the people crossing in front of her business without masks.
“It’s just blatantly obvious,” Fyfe commented.
And frustrating for the business owner, who follows COVID guidelines that include requiring masks, physical distancing, hand sanitizers, and a limit on the number of people in her business.
“I have a protocol of clients waiting in cars,” Fyfe said.
Following the issuance of the latest ticket, Fyfe has taken flak on social media.
“I’ve had people reviewing my business [online], giving it one star, calling me a ‘Karen,’ calling me a rat,” Fyfe related.
“The court of public opinion is not happy.”
She is not intimidated.
“I have a thick skin.”
However, Fyfe has decided to stop opening on Sundays because of the continuing issue of people without masks.
“It’s just a negative environment.”
The first fine against the Riverside Calvary church was levied after RCMP were called to the chapel on Sunday, Nov. 29, to investigate a report that in-person services were being held.
As many as 19 churches in the Fraser Valley have been holding in-person services in defiance of a provincial ban ordered to slow the spread of COVID-19.
As reported in a church bulletin sent to members of the Free Reformed Church (FRC) of Langley at 20757 80th Avenue, there was a meeting of pastors and elders from churches in the Fraser Valley in mid-December, where they discussed the fines that have been levied against several of them.
“There were some 50 pastors and elders of some 19 churches, mainly evangelical churches,” the bulletin reported.
As of that meeting, it was estimated that six to 10 churches in the region have been fined for defying the Nov. 19 order from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry that banned such gatherings in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
“These fines will not be paid, but will be challenged through the court system,” the bulletin reported, with the help of the Justice Centre of Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) and advice from the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA).
Calgary-based JCCF describes itself as a “public interest, non-partisan law firm and registered charity” that aims to “defend the constitutional freedoms of Canadians through litigation and education.”
JCCF went to court seeking a interim injunction against Alberta’s COVID-19 restrictions, including bans on gatherings and mandatory mask-wearing, but the application was dismissed in December, with the judge ruling the restrictions can remain in place until a full hearing of the challenge is heard.
ARPA has campaigned against rainbow flags and legislation that bans so-called “conversion therapy.”
It’s online mission statement says the “mission of ARPA Canada is to educate, equip, and encourage reformed Christians to political action, and to bring a biblical perspective to our civil authorities.”