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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Falun Gong supporters lose appeal to retain structure on Granville

A Falun Gong member holds vigil outside Vancouver's Chinese consulate.
By Keith Fraser, The Province February 10, 2009 7:01 AM

The Falun Gong supporters today lost a last-ditch appeal to prevent their protest site in front of Vancouver’s Chinese consulate from being dismantled.

Last month B.C. Supreme Court Madam Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein found that the protest billboard and small shed at the site on Granville Street violated the city’s bylaws and ordered them removed.

On Friday the protestors applied to stay the order pending the hearing of a full appeal, but this morning B.C. Court of Appeal Chief Justice Lance Finch dismissed the stay application.

Finch found that the protestors might suffer some harm to their cause by the order, but it does not rise to the level of “irreparable harm,” one of the requirements that must be met to uphold a stay.

He observed that if the protestors succeed on their full appeal, which may not be heard until September, they can rebuild the structure at that point.

Outside court, city lawyer Tom Zworski said he expected the site would be removed sometime today.

Joe Arvay, a lawyer for the protestors, could not be reached for comment.

The protest site was set up seven years ago. The Falun Gong claim they have been persecuted by the Chinese government.

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