Council gets preview of mandatory mask bylaw for Morinville ahead of first reading

by Colin Smith

Face coverings will be mandatory in public places in Morinville when the number of active cases of COVID-19 in the community rises to 10 (and more than 50 cases per 100,000) if a proposed bylaw discussed by Town Council at its September 15 Committee of the Whole meeting becomes law.

The Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw would require people to wear a face-covering at all time while in an indoor, enclosed or substantially enclosed public place or in public vehicles (taxis). Proposed penalties range from $100 up to $10,000.

The proposed bylaw sets out a number of exemptions, including for people who are unable to wear face coverings as a result of physical or mental health concerns, are unable to use face coverings without assistance, or are eating or drinking in designating seating areas or as part of a religious or spiritual ceremony.

At its August 25 regular meeting Council directed the Administration to bring forward a draft mandatory face-covering bylaw, including an effective trigger, for discussion.

Presenting the bylaw to Council, Iain Bushell, General Manager of Community and Infrastructure Services, pointed out that Alberta Health publishes a daily update of the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in each region, with the result that they are put in Open, Watch and Enhanced Measures categories.

Bushell stated that many municipalities have included a trigger for mandatory face coverings based upon case numbers putting them into “Watch” status, which is based on at least 10 active cases and more than 50 active cases per 100,000.

He said Morinville’s proposed bylaw was drafted following a review of the mandatory face-covering bylaws enacted by other communities because of a lack of provincial government direction and incorporated “best practices.”

However, the draft bylaw is unlikely to be passed in its present form, as Councillors at the Committee of the Whole meeting questioned several aspects of it.

One issue raised was that once the bylaw is triggered by cases rising to 10, the requirement for mandatory face coverings would remain even if the number subsequently goes down, until it is repealed.

“I cannot see me supporting a bylaw that doesn’t have a trigger-off,” said Councillor Stephen Dafoe.

Other Councillors voiced their agreement, and it was proposed that mandatory mask provisions be lifted once the number of active cases had dropped below 10 and remained there for 28 or 30 days.

Acknowledging Councillors’ concerns, Chief Administrative Officer Stephane Labonne indicated the Administration would work on revising the bylaw to include an off-trigger.

Another concern expressed, initially by Councillor Scott Richardson, was the size of the maximum penalty for violating the bylaw, set at $10,000.

Bushell stated that this figure would potentially be imposed only in “egregious” cases involving a number of people, such as large house parties where COVID prevention measures were deliberately being flouted.

Responding to a question from Councillor Rebecca Balanko, he said enforcement of the bylaw will be difficult, with usually only bylaw officer on during the day.

“This is a bylaw that will require the discretion of our staff,” added Labonne. “We have to look at it as education, compliance, enforcement.”

The draft bylaw was referred to Council’s September 22 regular meeting for First Reading.

As of Wednesday evening, Morinville had one active Covid-19 case. Sturgeon County, whose mask bylaw was removed on Monday after 14 days out of watch status is now up to 10 active cases and 35.8 per 100,000 of population.

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  1. Why ? We have 1 case last I heard . So money just flushed down the toilet when you did the survey & WE THE PEOPLE voted it down on 2 platforms ! Disgusted ! Mandatory to e
    Walk around with your head up your Ass these days , cause if you are free thinker that believes you the constitutional rights to form an opinion & make your own decisions you will be discriminated against by the Sheep. So create anger between the people cause of your ” Rules ” Online your attacked if you don’t agree with them & people with high anxiety suffer panic attacks .

  2. The proposed bylaw sets out a number of exemptions, including for people who are unable to wear face coverings as a result of physical or mental health concerns, are unable to use face coverings without assistance, or are eating or drinking in designating seating areas or as part of a religious or spiritual ceremony.

    I strongly disagree with people having exemptions to the rule! I know people have reasons but there are many alternatives you can choose rather than going in a public place without a mask.
    I would like to know under the mental health what that means, as this is affecting my mental health as it’s stressing me the fuck out!

  3. This is your PROPOSED bylaw on MASK? This is pretty weak leadership, just this preview is laughable, council can’t just say yes or no! I have some questions maybe administration can think about….here it goes!!!

    So if this mask bylaw is approved how will administration/ communications be able to communicate this to the town and public? Are you going to have electronic signs updated everyday to let us know? Or you expect us to go to the town website for updates? Is that expected of all the town business to do every morning?

    Also will you be enforcing this bylaw on the steps of the schools ( ex: MCHS) where students are standing in large groups talking without masks on and not being enforced in large groups ? Who will receive these finds of $100-$10,000, the students? The school? The parents?

    Seriously waste of time! Have the leadership skills to not make it complicated for those who will not understand this…make it simple not stupid!

  4. Im sorry, but based on previous interactions with the town bylaw officers I have concerns about their “discretion”

  5. Could we be informed on what information this bylaw is being based on. The science and the data reviewed. Our province did not mandate mask wearing for all. Does counsel communicate with the province? Just wondering. A shame if decisions are made politically. Some are always scared some are overly casual you can’t make every individual happy, facts may be best to base this decision on especially when freedoms are removed. Just some thoughts.

  6. IF masks are made mandatory – DONT SHOP LOCAL – they’ll get the point if the community votes with their dollars.

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