The diocese of New Westminster in Vancouver has received another generous gift to help offset legal fees stemming from litigation with four breakaway churches seeking to retain possession of their parish properties. This time, the gift came not from the diocese of Toronto, which donated $250,000 in June, but from the diocese of British Columbia. It recently sent a $100,000 cheque to New Westminster’s bishop, the Rt. Rev. Michael Ingham.
In his accompanying letter, the Rt. Rev. James Cowan, bishop of British Columbia, acknowledged that the outcome of the litigation-in which the court ruled in favour of the Anglican Church of Canada-helped establish property rights for the future.
“The Diocese of British Columbia is mindful of the sacrifice made by the Diocese of New Westminster in its defence of not only property but our polity,” Cowan wrote. “We are also conscious that if said litigation had not had the outcome it has had, we would have been involved in similar litigation.”
In June 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear further appeals by the dissident churches’ lawyers on the British Columbia Supreme Court’s previous ruling on the disputed New Westminster properties. In a watershed decision, the B.C. high court had ruled that the properties were to remain in trust with the diocese of New Westminster for the ministry of the Anglican Church of Canada, and the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld that decision.