West Kelowna, Colwood and Tumbler Ridge have all now responded to the BCHA's calls to end prayers in future inaugural council meetings.
In late November, the BCHA wrote to the seven municipalities that it identified as including prayers in their 2022 inaugural council meetings. Earlier this week, the Village of Belcarra Council met and passed a resolution to exclude prayers from all future meetings.
- In the City of Colwood, the 2022 inaugural council meeting included a Catholic liturgy sung by an invited choir. In their reply, the city's Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) wrote that the City "does not have policies related to the inclusion of prayers in our Inaugural." However, they will consider the duty of religious neutrality in planning future meetings.
- The District of Tumbler Ridge's inaugural meeting included 'words of inspiration' from a local pastor. The district's interim CAO told us by phone that the council "has never had prayers" and provided a copy of the statement made by the pastor. The speech began with a Bible quote but was otherwise secular.
- The City of West Kelowna's CAO promised to "review the decision from the Supreme Court of Canada and any other relevant decisions or legal commentary on the issue to ensure that the City is aligned with its governing legislation as well as all applicable common law legal principles before the next inaugural meeting in 2026."
Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:
We've now heard from the majority of the communities we named in our recent report. While Colwood and Tumbler Ridge's practices may represent edge cases, we're pleased that each community has acknowledged the importance of the Saguenay decision.
The BCHA is still awaiting replies from Delta, Parksville and Vancouver.
There's no ambiguity in the prayers that were said in Delta and Parksville. They were delivered by Christian pastors in the name of Jesus. Similarly, we aren't convinced that Vancouver's attempt at an interfaith prayer passes muster either.