River City Vineyard Appealing

Sarnia’s River City Vineyard has decided to appeal a court ruling that upheld the city’s legal right under its zoning bylaw to close the Church’s homeless shelter.

Reverend George Esser says they are appealing last month’s Superior Court of Justice ruling to the Ontario Court of Appeal as a matter of principle. He says they believe love and compassion are important principles that courts should protect and by appealing, River City hopes that other churches and charities will provide sanctuary and care for the less fortunate.

While the appeal process continues, Esser says they will shut down the shelter at the former “Y” on Mitton St. as ordered June 15. He says they hope to work with the city and its lawyers to find options to reopen the shelter for the next winter season if the appeal has not been decided by then.

Esser says they are seeking support from churches and charities to help fund the legal challenge.

The city and River City have already incurred legal costs estimated at $100,000 each.

Esser says about $87,000 of their costs have been pro bono.

The Superior Court of Justice decision did not award costs with each party responsible for its own.

City Councillor Terry Burrell says it’s disappointing the Church is taking the matter further given the costs involved.

He was hoping the contentious community issue would be settled.