GraceLife Church, west of Edmonton, remains confiscated by the province of Alberta after the church property was seized by RCMP and Alberta Health Services two months ago in a dawn raid.
The entire church property remains fenced off, though the RCMP that initially secured the location have since gone, with private Paladin Security guards left to monitor the area. Supporters of the congregation have tied yellow ribbons on the bars of the security fencing and have left Bibles and religious literature for the guards on site. The church's yard is becoming overgrown as no one is allowed in to mow the grass and perform maintenance.
The condition of the church property is in stark contrast to the white linens and whisky luxury that Premier Jason Kenney and his senior cabinet ministers, including Health Minister Tyler Shandro, were seen indulging in after photos of the after work not-socially-distant social gathering in the scandal-plagued Sky Palace penthouse patio in the Federal Building were leaked online. Current health restrictions dictate that people from outside the same household cannot dine together on restaurant patios, however, outdoor gatherings without food and drink can be held in numbers of 10 or fewer.
In the early morning hours of April 7, 2021, the GraceLife property was fenced off under three layers of portable fencing to prevent the congregation and their pastor, James Coates, from using the building to hold church services that did not conform to public health limits on places of worship. The restrictions at the time of the raid forced churches to limit capacity to 15 per cent of fire code capacity, social distance and wear masks, even while singing.
Pastor Coates was arrested in his church office on February 7 for breaching an undertaking to comply with public health orders. Coates turned himself into local RCMP and was held in the maximum security Remand Centre in Edmonton for 35 days, after it was alleged he breached the conditions of his release by holding a non compliant church service on February 14, 2021.
Coates will be back in court on Monday to hear a decision on Charter arguments stemming from his May 3-5 trial. The case still has a further hearing on the merits of the lockdown, where the government of Alberta will be forced to produce evidence to support their pandemic response.