Cold Lake councillors will talk at the next meeting of potential protocols on whether masks should be enforced in some public spaces after the issue was brought up during the city’s latest corporate priorities meeting.
The decision to revisit council’s previous decision was brought forward by councillor Vicky Lefebvre as residents have been asking.
“I’ve had a few people sending requests in to me, wondering what we’re going to do about masks,” said Lefebvre. “Council’s already come to a conclusion, but there’s been new things happening around town, and I have no problem potentially going back on that decision now that cases are starting to arrive locally.”
On Tuesday, it was reported that a Point West Living employee had tested positive for COVID-19, and with a few active cases in the city shown on the AHS virus map and five active cases confirmed on Cold Lake First Nations (which may be the same cases).
During discussions it was proposed that a bylaw be written up that would include so-called “trigger points” which would be based on case numbers in the area and inform the city on when mandatory masks should be worn.
A similar system has been used in Strathcona County.
Cold Lake hasn’t implemented a mandatory mask bylaw during the pandemic, though grocers Nofrills and Walmart have had mask mandates in place since mid-summer, and the issue has been polarizing for citizens and councillors.
“We’ve seen people for and against masks here in the community,” said CAO Kevin Nagoya. “I’ve seen citizens handing out leaflets advocating against mask, which have also been distributed by city council.”
Councillors Bob Buckle and Duane Lay were those that spoke out against a mandatory mask bylaw, including the proposed trigger checks, calling them arbitrary.
“Why set it at 10 cases? Why not five? Why not 20? What good will any arbitrary number we choose do,” said Buckle in council. “My thought is that we stay the course and continue to follow the advice from Dr. Hinshaw, keeping in mind that Cold Lake First Nations has the ability to close off access to their land.”
Council will vote on whether to implement a trigger check system at next week’s regular meeting.