Interior Health granted injunction against West Kelowna gym, but owner vows to fight

Interior Health won a short-notice court case against a West Kelowna gym on Friday. However, one of the gym’s owners vows to fight the closure order. Global News

A B.C. judge has ruled for Interior Health in its ongoing battle with an Okanagan gym over COVID-related health measures.

On Friday, Interior Health was granted an injunction to temporarily close Iron Energy Fitness Centre in West Kelowna.

The ruling came just days after the health agency allegedly entered the gym this week and dropped off court documents indicating it was seeking the gym’s closure.

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Interior Health claimed that Iron Energy Fitness Centre was not requiring proof of vaccination from its clients, nor were clients wearing face coverings — both breaches of provincial health measures.

Further, Interior Health claimed it issued a closure order on Feb. 3, but the gym kept its doors open despite the order.

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“The defendants have and are continuing to wilfully contravene the closure order, the public health orders and the Public Health Act,” Interior Health said in court documents.

“The conduct of the defendant is, among other things, putting the health and safety of the public at serious risk. The relief sought by the plaintiffs should be granted in the circumstances.”

Click to play video: 'Okanagan gym defiant against provincial mandates'
Okanagan gym defiant against provincial mandates

The court agreed, though the defendants argued that the gym owners weren’t properly served.

The gym’s response said Interior Health’s court documents were dropped off in a thick binder and left with a gym employee who isn’t an officer, director or owner of the fitness centre.

The gym also argued against an affidavit from Dr. Silvina Mema of Interior Health, stating her opinion is not shared by others in the scientific community.

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The court sided with Interior Health.

The order states “the plaintiff’s application for an injunction enjoining and restraining Iron Energy by itself, its servants, agents or otherwise or anyone else to whom notice of this order was given from operating Iron Energy or otherwise not complying with the closure order. For 6 months from the date of these reasons for judgement or so long as the closure order is in effect whichever comes first.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. gyms reopen Jan. 20 after latest public health closure'
B.C. gyms reopen Jan. 20 after latest public health closure

The court also said Interior Health will have liberty to apply to extend the terms of the order if they choose.

Notably, among the items Interior Health was seeking:

“An order authorizing any police officer with the RCMP to arrest and/or remove from the gym any person who the RCMP have reasonable and probable grounds to believe is contravening or has contravened any order granted by the court in this proceeding.”

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Friday’s order issued by the judge did not mention or address that specific paragraph in the statement of claim.

Global News has reached out to Interior Health, as to why it felt it was necessary to add that request.

Click to play video: 'National fitness association critical of non-compliant gyms'
National fitness association critical of non-compliant gyms

While Interior Health may have won this court battle, it appears Iron Energy will be fighting back.

On Friday, one of the gym owners, Brian Mark, said on social media that it’ll be business as usual.

“We were denied natural justice,” Mark said in a 16-minute post on Instagram. “We were railroaded, essentially, in court today.”

Regarding the closure order issued earlier this month, which he called unlawful, Mark confirmed the gym “violated” it.

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Click to play video: 'Health Authority to take West Kelowna gym owners to court for flouting COVID-19 rules'
Health Authority to take West Kelowna gym owners to court for flouting COVID-19 rules

“I have no problem admitting that,” said Mark. “Neither do the (other) owners, because we are guilty of standing up for freedom.”

Regarding Friday’s injunction, Mark said “we didn’t get the chance to make the argument in court, whether or not the closure order was based on facts and science. We didn’t get the chance to argue that.

“The only thing that the judge was there to make a decision on today is whether or not we violated the closure order. Period. That’s it.”

Mark continued, saying “based on that decision, Iron Energy Gym has been ordered to close. But guess what? We were ordered to close before, too. The only difference I know (is that) it’s coming from the court versus Interior Health.

“But it’s the same closure order. And we’re still here.”

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Mark said the gym plans to open a counter-claim against Interior Health.

“Why is it up to small business owners to stand up and fight?” he said, later adding “we are going to stay open.”

The video can be seen on his Instagram page.

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