Friday , 3 December 2021

Cold Lake city council to discuss masks on Wednesday–again

Cold Lake city council will have a special council meeting Wednesday evening to discuss a mandatory mask mandate.

This will be the third time city council will see this topic in front of them after the most recent conversation in late October ended in a 4-3 decision to reject the bylaw.

More residents are being vocal about wanting a mandatory mask bylaw.

An online petition in just the past two weeks has garnered over 900 signatures as they call on council to “do the right thing.”

Councillor Chris Vining said residents continue to send in letters on this issue.

“I think the biggest thing with it is that residents in town have been very consistent with me. I’ve heard from a few people that have said no, they’re fine with where we’re at. And that’s fine and good for them. But it’s been overwhelming from the public to me, that our community needs something,” Vining said, who voted in favour of a mask bylaw back in late October.

Since that vote, active COVID-19 cases have spiked in the city area. On Monday, there are 61 active cases in the Cold Lake area on the province’s virus data map.

While Vining said many have expressed disappointment that the province did not do a broad mask mandate, he said, that’s where the local officials can step in.

When asked about the mask discussion last week, Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul MLA Dave Hanson said that’s an issue the province has decided to leave in the hands of the municipalities, who are “right on the ground in those areas that can make the best judgment.”

“The province has been very clear, they have said that this is going to be the responsibility of the communities and so if they are not going to do anything, then I think it’s incumbent upon us,” said Vining.

“As I said, it’s been overwhelming and people want action. The lack of action on any kind of mandate has not been met favourably by the vast majority of people that I’ve spoken to.”

Lac La Biche, Bonnyville, and St. Paul are among local communities who have elected against a public face covering bylaw, but have done policies for their own municipal-ran facilities to insist on masks.

With a stalemate the last two times the issue has been brought to council, will there be a change in the vote?

‘We’ll see whether or not with the sharp rise in cases in the area and stuff from the demand from the public. For example, I put it out that we’re having a special meeting and asked for people for and against to send me emails letting me know, so I could pass along. I’m sitting at right now think I’ve had about 35 emails for and about two against.

“For me, it feels to me that it’s clear what people in the community want. And like I said, and I would normally not even want to get into this. But the province’s just said, we’re gonna let the city deal with it. So that being the case, then I guess we’re gonna have to deal with it.”

City council had previously voted to cancel their two regular meetings in December.

The special meeting takes place at City Hall on Wednesday at 6:00pm.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.