Langley RCMP has twice issued fines to Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)

No action on tax penalty for churches defying COVID orders in Langley Township

Council heard that such a move would be legal, but couldn’t be retroactive

The Township of Langley is within its rights to withhold a tax break from churches or other non-profits that violate public health orders, staff told council on Monday.

But as of yet, the council has not taken action to crack down on local churches that have been breaking the rules and gathering for services on Sundays.

Churches, temples, and other religious gathering places in B.C. are usually eligible for two property tax exemptions. The first is provincially mandated the covers the building where worship takes place. The second covers other lands – grassy areas or parking lots – and can be granted, or not, by local civic governments.

The report, brought in Monday, noted that the Township can set up next year’s applications for a permissive tax exemption so that it includes a question – the applicant must confirm they have not received a fine for contravening a Public Health Order.

“However, the Township is unable to retroactively alter exemptions that have already been approved,” the report says.

Earlier this month, Councillor Kim Richter had put forward a motion that would have penalized churches or other non-profits that violated the Public Health Orders related to COVID-19.

Churches in B.C. have been forbidden from having indoor services since November, when restrictions were tightened as COVID-19 infection numbers rose.

The motion was in response to the Riverside Calvary Chapel, which has been fined several times for defying the order.

READ MORE: Langley Township could strip tax breaks from churches defying health orders

Several other churches in the Fraser Valley have also faced fines in recent weeks for refusing to follow the order, while other religious leaders have encouraged people to continue following the order, holding virtual church services, or gathering in cars in parking lots.

CoronavirusLangley TownshipReligion

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

Just Posted

A local resident is concerned about the low voter turnout in the recent school board byelection. (Langley Advance Times files)
LETTER: Few Langley residents bothered to vote in school trustee election

A local letter writer wonders why the current situation didn’t prompt more people to cast ballots

An agreement between the City and the Langley Lions Housing Society would set out income and age requirements for the new Birch replacement building (Langley City image)
Agreement on seniors rental building a first for Langley City

Sets several conditions to ensure project is affordable for low- and moderate-income seniors

Another member of the Peterson Road Elementary School community has tested positive for COVID-19, the Langley school district reported Saturday. (Undated Google Street View image)
Another COVID-19 case reported at Peterson Road Elementary School

School has reported two positive tests in two days

Seveya Jepsen is inviting people to stop by her Pet Food Drive on Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Jepsen family/Special to the Langley Advance Time)
Langley girl’s 10th birthday goes to the dogs, and cats, and rabbits

Seveya Jepsen is concerned that animals have enough food so she’s hosting a pet food drive.

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

(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

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

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

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