Anglican Samizdat

May 27, 2009

The New Westminster and Niagara trial updates

Filed under: Diocese of Niagara — David Jenkins @ 11:02 pm
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The diocese of New Westminster is reporting on the trial between it and ANiC to determine ownership of church properties. This update on the Niagara court proceedings was at the end of the day 3 report:

In another legal matter involving the Anglican Network in Canada, in the Superior Court of Ontario, Madam Justice Jane Milanetti awarded leaders of three dissenting congregations to pay $75,600 in court costs after the failure of their attempt to obtain exclusive use of buildings in the Diocese of Niagara in Ontario, until a trial could be held.

The case had been heard in March of 2008. The diocese had offered to share the buildings, Judge Milanetti noted in her judgement, “an offer substantially better…than my ultimate order.”

After the judge ruled in May of 2008 that the buildings must be shared, the Network parishes decided instead to leave. The parishes were St. George’s Lowville, St. Hilda’s Oakville, and the Church of the Good Shepherd, St. Catharines.

“Despite my order that the parties share the properties, the respondents have apparently chosen not to do so. I have learned that they opted to incur additional costs to worship elsewhere. Although that is clearly their prerogative, those additional expenses (despite their argument based on same), cannot and will not be considered by me in this decision,” she wrote in her decision on costs made public Wednesday (May 27).

Not entirely accurate. In St. Hilda’s case, we did not decide to leave: we worship at a school on Sundays since the diocese was given the building at the time we hold our services. During the week we are still in the building and run ministries out of it.

Initially the diocese offered to relieve us of the keys to our building, not to share it; once they realised they weren’t going to get them, as a second best option, they did offer to share it. Considering that we believe the diocese to be heretical, sharing the building with them made little sense; if we could amicably share the building, we would not have had to leave the diocese in the first place. The first trial judge, Ramsay recognised this and gave us exclusive use of the building.

The subsequent “sharing” has been little more than a ploy by the diocese to create a perceived need for the buildings to house their congregation; in actual fact they only have around 5 people – imported from another church in St. Hilda’s case – attending Sunday worship in the Niagara churches; their true interest is the value of the properties.

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3 Comments

  1. Fighting over St Hilda’s, despite what would happen to the various outreaches of the original congregation, has proven not the way to go. Imagine what they could have done with the $75000 court costs as an outreach. Just think about the negative PR that this fighting has done to the Body of Christ. It’s time to settle and get out of this mess and move on. Dust and sandals time.

    Comment by Gawk — May 28, 2009 @ 9:15 am

  2. The line “Despite my order that the parties share the properties, the respondents have apparently chosen not to do so” is more than a touch arrogant. I’m sure the judge knows that she cannot order a congregation where to worship; she can only grant them a right to worship in a place.

    But the good news is that she has rejected the diocese’s inflated claim for $200,000 in court costs and granted only a more reasonable sum. So she’s not buying everything they say.

    I am puzzled by the reference to ANiC arguing that it deserved something for the additional costs we had occurred by worshipping elsewhere. I cannot imagine counsel arguing that directly as it would be sure to inflame the judge given her remarks about the wonderfulness of sharing in her previous judgment. Perhaps it was brought up in connexion with argument over the diocese’s failure to pay building costs.

    Comment by Toral — May 28, 2009 @ 9:24 am

  3. Gawk,
    Although I have always been able to see both sides of the “to fight or not to fight” question, I am still of the opinion that trying to keep the building is the right thing to do; it is true that it has been costly, but I think it is a price worth paying for taking a stand – and the PR has not been negative for us as far as I can tell. Of course, what happens next once the New West trial is over is another matter.

    Toral,
    Yes that does seem like an odd argument to make to a judge who seems to have little sympathy for ANiC’s case; I’m waiting for the actual ruling to appear to see what else she had to say.

    Comment by David — May 28, 2009 @ 9:37 am


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