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Council to hear motion addressing mandatory masks in RMWB

PHOTO. Packages of face masks on April 29, 2020. RMWB Council will meet on Oct. 13, 2020, to debate a bylaw that would call for mandatory masking of all residents in public spaces across the region to mitigate possible community transmission of COVID-19. (PHOTO: Tony Fera, CityNews)

Fort McKay Métis Nation President Ron Quintal made a presentation to Mayor and Councillors on mandatory masking in the RMWB.

Across the region, there are 68 active cases and 160 recoveries.

Alberta also reported the first fatality linked to COVID-19 in Fort McMurray since the start of the pandemic.

RELATED: Alberta records first death from COVID-19 in Fort McMurray

Quintal asked Mayor and Councillors to consider a mandatory mask bylaw in public spaces.

He said he doesn’t care about potential backlash.

“This is about protecting my children, my Elders, and my family, and I hope that every other resident looks at it in that mindset.”

On July 11, leaders in Fort McKay implemented a mandatory masking plan for the hamlet after reporting its first confirmed case.

RELATED: Fort McKay implements COVID-19 response plan

Quintal said the prospective bylaw would align with masking in schools, transit, industry, and select businesses and stores.

He added masking will also help to flatten the curve of COVID-19.

“It’s not a matter of ‘if COVID gets into the schooling system’, it’s a matter of when. The second that it hits the schools that my children are attending in Fort McMurray, then I’ll be pulling my kids out of school and looking for an alternative education.”

Deputy CAO Matthew Hough also confirmed Suncor and Syncrude want to see a plan adopted for the region.

Syncrude reported 23 total cases linked to its Mildred Lake and Aurora sites as of Sept. 8.

Suncor also said there are nine total cases linked to the company.

RELATED: RMWB makes adjustments in its COVID-19 response

Legal Services Chris Davis confirmed a draft could be ready to come before RMWB Council by the end of the week.

RMWB Councillor Jeff Peddle introduced a motion to hold a special meeting on Sept. 14 to address the issue.

Bylaws tied to urgent matters may be read for all three readings.

Councillors shared their concerns with the timing of the meeting, but Peddle argued the motion requires immediate attention due to the spike in COVID-19 cases.

Calgary and Edmonton city councils previously made mask-wearing mandatory for indoor public spaces.

RMWB Council voted 7 – 1 to meet on Sept. 14, 2020.