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RMWB Council revisits Face Covering Bylaw on Tuesday

Last Updated Oct 10, 2020 at 5:38 pm MDT

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)

RMWB Council returns Oct. 13 to discuss several topics, including mandatory masking.

Known as the Face Covering Bylaw, it calls for the wearing of masks in all public places in Wood Buffalo.

RELATED: Wood Buffalo divided on mandatory masking issue

The administration introduced the motion to pass the bylaw on Sept. 8.

On that day, there were 68 active cases of COVID-19 in the RMWB, including 66 in Fort McMurray.

The region was also on Alberta’s COVID-19 watch list.

“Of the 66 active cases in Fort McMurray, 40 of those were reported over the September long weekend, representing roughly a twofold increase in three days. Sadly, during the same period, one person in Fort McMurray had passed away due to COVID-19.”

At the time of the meeting, Alberta schools were also due to reopen.

Mayor and Councillors elected to hold a special meeting to address the issue on Sept. 14.

“There is substantial evidence indicating that the widespread use of face coverings among the public has a mitigating effect on the spread and severity of COVID-19.”

The issue divided the RMWB Council as they weighed health and safety, individual rights, and the needs of private industry.

READ MORE: Face Covering Bylaw on hold in RMWB as COVID-19 cases slow across Alberta

RMWB Councillor Sheila Lalonde blocked an attempt to vote on the motion before third and final reading.

She argued the region continue following for recommendations from Alberta and Canada’s chief medical health officers.

“I think we should leave the mandating of health issues to the people who are the subject matter experts. If Dr Hinshaw and Dr Tam all say yes, masks are mandated, [then] I vote in a heartbeat for it.”

With the block of third reading, it pushed that vote to the next scheduled Council meeting on Oct. 13, 2020.

As of Oct. 9, there are 32 active cases of COVID-19 in the RMWB, including 29 in Fort McMurray.

The decline in the region’s active case rate for COVID-19 helped remove the RMWB from Alberta’s watch.

To date, Alberta did not make masks mandatory, but Dr Deena Hinshaw encourages Albertans to wear them.

Council chambers at Syncrude Athletic Park Clubhouse will open to the public under strict health guidelines.

RELATED: RMWB Council chambers to open with strict health measures in place

Mayor and Councillors will also hear from Fort City Play World on an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw.

RMWB Council meets on Oct. 13, 2020, at 4:00 p.m.