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Pastor of GraceLife church refuses bail conditions, remains in police custody

A truck arrives at GraceLife church outside Edmonton. The church has been ordered to close after continously defying public health orders. (CREDIT: CityNews Edmonton)

EDMONTON – Mounties in Parkland Country say the pastor of GraceLife church remains in custody after he refused to agree to bail conditions.

On Sunday, GraceLife church defied a closure order over refusal to follow occupancy limits and mask mandates for the third week in a row.

READ MORE: Questions about police enforcement of COVID-19 rules arise after three separate weekend events in Alberta

On Tuesday, pastor James Coates turned himself into the RCMP detachment. He was charged in contravention to the Public Health Act and failing to comply with conditions of his undertaking under the criminal code.

Police say Coates was given a bail hearing where he refused to agree to conditions and therefore remained in police custody.

“We’ve been consistent in our approach of escalated levels of enforcement with Pastor Coates, and we were hopeful to resolve this issue in a different manner,” said Insp. Mike Lokken.

“The Pastor’s actions, and the subsequent effects those actions could have on the health and safety of citizens, dictated our response in this situation.”

Coates again refused to agree to conditions for his release on Wednesday morning, police added.

His next court date is scheduled for Feb. 24.