Hill City Baptist Church Senior Pastor Alex Kloosterman was the organizer who last Saturday received a ticket to an outdoor religious gathering at Nicholls Oval, said doctor Dr Rosana Salvaterra – the latest in a long series of occasions where Kloosterman has “ignored and challenged” public health measures in the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
Salvaterra said public health officials had “a history” with Kloosterman and his congregation dating back to last fall and winter, before current orders to stay at home.
She went to a church service at Argyle Village on Argyle Street in December, she said, to find people unmasked during the service.
“We met Pastor Kloosterman and he told us very clearly that he has no intention of complying with the provincial masking requirement,” she said in a virtual public health briefing on Friday. intended for journalists.
Salvaterra said public health officials were on the verge of issuing a Section 22 order – which would have closed the church – when they received notification from the landlord that the lease of the church in Argyle Village was scheduled to expire on December 17th.
Yet videos posted to the Hill City Baptist Church Facebook page for several Sundays show preachers, musicians and some worshipers in an interior space – and no one is wearing a mask or keeping a physical distance.
When asked if the church still met in person in defiance of orders to stay home, Salvaterra said she would not be surprised.
“We lost sight of them in December when they left the village of Argyle where they were renting the space,” she said.
Earlier this week, the Examiner emailed Kloosterman asking if these were videos showing the current cult in person, but he won’t say it.
The address of the church is listed online as 780 Argyle St. (the village of Argyle).
While the church’s website says they also used space at the Westmount Bible Chapel on Clonsilla Avenue, Kloosterman said in an email that they would not meet there ” for the foreseeable future ”(that was the only question he answered).
He wouldn’t say more, but on his personal Facebook page this week, Kloosterman wrote that the Constitution allows for peaceful assembly and freedom of religion – and the Ontario Reopening Act does not replace that.
In a later post, he writes that there is no scientific basis to suggest that outdoor gatherings are high risk.
When asked to respond through The Examiner, Salvaterra said on Friday that she was not ready to argue with the pastor through the media.
“I made my case to him. He knows where I’m from, ”she said. “He knows where I’m from. And we have a difference of opinion. “
Regarding the Constitution argument, Police Chief Scott Gilbert offered reporters at the briefing an excerpt from the law books:
“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out therein subject only to reasonable limits prescribed by law which can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society,” he said.
Insp. Peterborough Police John Lyons said at the briefing that police would be watching Nicholls Oval this weekend.
Under province-wide stay-at-home orders, public gatherings indoors or outdoors are banned to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Religious gatherings, weddings and funerals are only allowed with a maximum of 10 people.
Kloosterman also spoke at the large anti-lockdown rally in Confederation Square on April 24 which drew around 600 people, and he then said he intended to continue preaching in person regardless of orders. to stay at home.
“And if we get a ticket, we will continue, and if we go to jail, we will continue,” he added to the cheers of the crowd. “I adore a man who came out of the grave, so I’m not worried. Was good. “