Whistle Stop Cafe closed by AHS, owner enraged

Bashaw RCMP came to the Whistle Stop Cafe on the outskirts of Mirror, Alta. at approx. 6:30 a.m. on Wed. May 5 to chain and place locks on the business on behalf of Alberta Health Services (AHS).

This comes after months of back and forth between AHS, the provincial government and Whistle Stop Cafe owner, Chris Scott.

Scott shared with the ECA Review that he was ‘enraged’ by the situation and how it violates Canadian and provincial fundamental rights and freedoms set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Alberta Bill of Rights and Freedoms.

“We have the right to life, liberty, the security of person and the enjoyment of our property and we are being deprived of all of that because of a fear campaign our government and media has brought on,” he said.

“I feel enraged that those that are sworn to protect us and uphold our rights are protecting the interests of our government instead of us.”

In a statement from AHS made on May 5, it was explained that for several weeks the provincial health service “has attempted to work collaboratively with the operator of the Whistle Stop Café to address the ongoing public health concerns at the site.”

AHS has prevented access to the building until Scott “can demonstrate the ability to comply with not only Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health’s (CMOH) restrictions but also requirements under Alberta’s Public Health Act and Food Regulation.”

When RCMP showed up in the morning where one cafe employee was present, according to Scott, they were told they could not do anything or call anyone until Scott was personally served papers at his home.

“They woke me up on my day off to do this because they don’t have the balls to come there when I am there or people that are supporting.

“I know it’s because they [RCMP] know Alberta doesn’t agree with the garbage they are doing to us and the people of Alberta wouldn’t let them get away with it if they were there.

“So they did it in the wee hours of the morning when they knew there wasn’t going to be any resistance,” said Scott.

Steps taken by AHS prior to physically closing the site include a Closure Order which was issued on Jan. 22, requiring the Cafe to comply with CMOH restrictions relating to dine-in services, a Court of Queen’s Bench Order was obtained on Feb. 3, requiring the business to comply with the previous Closure Order, and another issued on April 12, 2021 to comply with CMOH restrictions relating to dine-in services and a suspension of the operator’s food handling permit was implemented the same day followed by a full Closure Order for the facility was issued on April 15, 2021, requiring the Whistle Stop Café to cease both dine-in and take-out services because of operating without a food handling permit.

The operator’s food handling permit was cancelled indefinitely on April 16, 2021 for failure to comply with the previous Closure Order.

It has been reported that since Jan. 1, 2021 AHS has received 413 complaints from the public about the establishment.

Following a protest rally at the cafe on Sat. May 8, Scott was arrested by police and sent to the Red Deer Remand Centre.

A release time and conditions have not been shared publicly as of press time.

Injunction

AHS took further legal action on Thurs. May 6 against the operator of the Whistle Stop Café, with the Court of Queen’s Bench granting a preemptive injunction against a planned protest that took place Sat. May 8 at the cafe by the owner.

The injunction essentially defines the event as an illegal public gathering that does not comply with Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) Order requirements on masking, attendance limits and physical distancing.

The order restrains the owner and others from organizing, promoting and attending the event and includes police enforcement and imposes significant consequences on the organizers of this event and deters others from organizing similar events in the future.

The action also sought and received a court order against all other organizers of advertised illegal gatherings and rallies breaching COVID-19 public health orders.

AHS has taken this step due to the ongoing risk to Albertans created by those breaching COVID-19 public health restrictions and advertising social gatherings which, if held, breach current and active CMOH Orders and pose a risk to public health.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.