GraceLife Church charged under Public Health Act, due in court in May
GraceLife Church was charged as an entity under the Public Health Act for exceeding the 15 per cent allowable capacity, according to RCMP.
EDMONTON -- A church west of Edmonton that has defied a closure order from public health authorities and continued to hold services has been charged with breaking the Public Health Act.
Mounties say GraceLife Church has been charged as an entity for exceeding the 15 per cent allowable capacity at services held on Feb. 21 and Feb. 28.
"The Church was non compliant with the Public Health Order in that it was over the allowed capacity," reads a statement from RCMP.
The charges comes under section 73 of the act which reads in part, "a person who contravenes this Act .... or an order of a medical officer of health ... is guilty of an offence."
Mounties have been at the church on Sunday throughout the past weeks to monitor the situation.
RCMP say legal counsel for the church was served with a summons to attend court in Stony Plain on May 5.
Police declined further comment noting the charges were now before the court.
GraceLife Church has been cited for violating health restrictions around occupancy, physical distancing and mask wearing, and has also defied a closure order.
Its pastor, James Coates, remains in jail after being granted bail but refusing to agree to conditions of his release, namely that he not lead services or attend church without obeying public health measures.
He lost an appeal of those bail conditions last week and, barring a change of heart about agreeing to the release conditions, will stay at the Edmonton Remand Centre until the start of his three-day trial on May 3.
Retail services and places of worship remain restricted to limiting capacity to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy, according to provincial health restrictions.
To date, 1,926 Albertans have died due to COVID-19 and more than 6,000 have been hospitalized.