‘I’m done playing nice with the City of White Rock’

Church of the Holy Smoke ordered dismantled by July 31 after council votes to uphold previous decision.

Robin Douglas speaks to White Rock city council at Monday's reconsideration hearing.

The City of White Rock is standing firm in its call for a makeshift church structure on Marine Drive to be dismantled by the end of the week, following a reconsideration hearing Monday morning.

Council voted unanimously for the operations at the Church of the Holy Smoke to be ceased and the structure be cleared by July 31, following an appeal by Robin Douglas, pastor of the marijuana-centred organization.

“All we’re asking is for more time so that we can find a proper home,” Douglas told council Monday, pointing out he and his supporters have “tried to do everything we possibly can to help alleviate any problems.”

Douglas has been operating his church for four months out of a tent structure in the 14700-block of Marine Drive as a gathering place for people to come and smoke marijuana. Following complaints by at least one neighbour and a series of fines levied by the city, council voted July 13 to declare the structure a “nuisance” and order its removal. The city scheduled a reconsideration hearing July 20 to allow Douglas an opportunity to appeal, then, at Douglas’s request that morning – and only after seeking the advice of legal counsel – gave the pastor another week to prepare.

Karen Cooper, the city’s director of planning and development services, told council Monday that she had visited the site earlier that morning and had observed that garbage had been removed and that the two tent structures had been reduced to one.

In recommending a resolution for the operations to be ceased and the structure cleared, Cooper noted the tent’s use was still not in line with city bylaws and safety requirements.

“The main issue is the public safety and the use of the property as an assembly place is in contravention of the bylaw,” Cooper said.

In his submission to council, Douglas alleged the city had used “coercion tactics” in order to have him evicted from the Marine Drive property, including threatening his landlord with fines if he didn’t terminate tenancy.

Douglas attempted to play council a video on his cellphone, in which his landlord allegedly admitted to being threatened with fines, however, Mayor Wayne Baldwin interjected after a few minutes, calling the video “illegible” and attempting to steer the discussion back to Douglas and his church structure.

“We’re here to listen to your reasons why you can’t have the site cleared out by July 31,” Baldwin said.

Douglas responded that he felt the gathering place meets city bylaw standards and has garnered a large amount of support from the community, with the exception of “one or two neighbours who have a problem with it.”

“This is not about the structure, it’s about who we are as a church,” Douglas said.

After council voted to give Douglas a July 31 deadline to have the structure removed, Baldwin commented on Douglas having parked his vehicle in front of city hall in a spot designated for disabled persons.

“Can I suggest in the future that you not park in the handicapped spot as you are right now?” Baldwin said, to which Douglas replied that he had a sticker in his car.

“It’s not evident,” Baldwin replied.

Following Monday’s meeting, Douglas told Peace Arch News he will not comply with the city’s orders to take down the tent, although he will not resist should the city forcibly remove it after the July 31 deadline.

He said he plans to contact the attorney general’s office to find out if there is an appeal process with the province that he can embark on, and also plans to file a complaint against the city under the Human Rights Act.

“I’m done playing nice with the City of White Rock,” Douglas said. “They’ve stepped on the toes of their citizens and they have got to be held accountable for what they’ve done.”

Just Posted

Man ‘seriously’ injured in crash after driving wrong way on Highway 17: Surrey RCMP

Police say the sedan hit a transport truck, then another car

Easter ‘eggstravaganza’ event planned for South Surrey

Event is to run from 12-3 p.m. at Dufferin Park (17355 2 Ave.).

Update: Surrey Mounties found missing man

Kuldip Sandhu, 41, had been reported missing

IHIT hunting in Edmonton for clues to 2017 Surrey homicide

Tanner Krupa, 19 was found dead in an alley in August 2017, in the 6900-block of 127A Street

Surrey youth ‘REWIRE’ in play-creating project that involves a lunar eclipse and video games

‘It was such a fun process to create a play from scratch,’ says Guildford Park Secondary student

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

Foreign national arrested in connection to thefts at YVR

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Police pursue pesky porker on Vancouver Island

‘This was allegedly not the pig’s first escape’

Rare ‘Snow Tower’ tree blooming in Vancouver city park

A plant rarely grown in Canada is now flowering at the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park

Westjet tries again to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination

Former flight attendant claims airline broke contractual promise to create harassment-free workplace

Man airlifted to hospital after apparent hunting incident in East Kootenay

The man was in stable condition when he was flown out of Fairmont Hot Springs to a Calgary hospital

Most Read

l -->