GraceLife Church facing charges under Public Health Act

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GraceLife Church in Parkland County, west of Edmonton, was charged last week
GraceLife Church in Parkland County, west of Edmonton, was charged last week

GraceLife Church in Parkland County has been charged "as an entity" for exceeding allowable capacity at Sunday services in February, Parkland RCMP said Wednesday.

The church was charged for exceeding the 15 per cent allowable capacity for services on Feb. 21 and Feb. 28, contrary to Section 73(1) of the Public Health Act, RCMP said in a news release.

Legal counsel for the church was served March 4 with a summons to attend Stony Plain provincial court on May 5, police said.

The church was again over its allowable capacity at a service March 7, RCMP said.

RCMP were in attendance to help Alberta Health Services with its investigation into the church and its activities. Officers did not go inside the building, police said.

RCMP said they would offer no further comment on the charges announced Wednesday and said the investigation is continuing.

GraceLife Church has been holding services that officials say break COVID-19 public health orders on attendance, masking and distancing.

Last week, a judge ruled that GraceLife pastor James Coates will remain in jail until his trial this spring because religious beliefs are not above public health orders.

Coates was charged last month with violating Alberta's Public Health Act and with breaking a promise to abide by conditions of his bail release, which is covered under the Criminal Code.