Stratford City officials have offered an alternate location for a planned “pop-up” church service on Sunday.

In a statement,  Mayor Dan Mathieson and Stratford Police Chief Dan Skinner say they have reached out to the organizers and they have agreed to move the service from Market Square to the Packham Avenue Sports Complex.

The service, organized by No More Lockdowns Canada, is set to feature Pastor Henry Hildebrandt. Hildebrandt is Pastor of the controversial Church of God in Aylmer known for defying COVID-19 health restrictions and has faced court orders to close and thousands of dollars in fines during the pandemic.

Mayor Mathieson and Chief Skinner say they have reminded the group of the requirements of the province’s Roadmap to Reopen.  Beginning Friday religious services are allowed outside but only if people can physically distance.

Because there is already Al Fresco dining and the Slow Food Market planned on Sunday in Market Square and out of concern of crowds in the area the alternate location was suggested.

The pair says the Packham site offers more room to allow for physical distancing of two metres, public washrooms will be available, and the pavilion will provide shelter if needed.