Fraser Health has been trying — unsuccessfully — to enforce public health orders at Rolly's since September, when health officials started hearing complaints that the restaurant in Hope wasn't checking customers for proof of vaccination.
The struggle between the health authority and the business has escalated since then and will now go to a B.C. Supreme Court judge who will hear Fraser Health's injunction application in Vancouver Wednesday morning.
According to Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, officials have already tried closure orders and suspending the business and liquor licenses. Henry said on Tuesday that health officials will need the support of the courts to allow RCMP officers to enforce the closure orders, possibly with arrests.
"They've hosted political parties that are anti-vaccine, and it's been a difficult challenge," she said.
"It shows people that they don't respect their neighbours, they don't respect their business neighbours, they don't respect their community and that is something that we're hoping we'll get an injunction to help support us in closing [the restaurant]," said Henry.
According to the injunction application filed in court, the struggle goes back to Sept. 13, when a bylaw enforcement officer at the District of Hope received a complaint about the restaurant's failure to check for proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
The next day an environmental health officer with Fraser Health stopped by the restaurant and observed the lack of compliance with the public health order. One of the owners, Steven Young, told the officer they wouldn't check for B.C. vaccine cards, according to the application.
More than a week later, after more complaints, an inspector was back — this time told by a server that confirming proof of vaccination "was against the Constitution."
On Oct. 7, the restaurant was issued a closure order under the Public Health Act.
They were threatened with $100 fines each day they stayed open.
But, according to court documents, business continued. An environmental health officer paid visits nearly every day for the next week, issuing six violation tickets during that time.
Fraser Health filed the injunction application on Monday, and it's set to be heard by a judge Wednesday morning, at 9:45 a.m.
Rolly's has yet to file a response to the court application.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said on Tuesday that health officials are extremely busy with other matters but felt this issue had become serious enough to warrant the attempt to get a court order.
"Hopefully, that sends a message about our determination," said Dix, who added that he expects other health authorities to follow suit and use the same approach when necessary.