City Council amends mandatory mask use bylaw, second reading delayed

City Hall will be closed September 30th. (Kara Crest, MyGrandePrairieNow.com staff)
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Grande Prairie residents will have to wait another week before city council potentially decides on a mandatory mask bylaw. Despite finishing the first reading of Bylaw C-1426, which under certain circumstances would see masks mandated in public buildings around the city, a number of amendments and the desire for further debate by members of council has pushed back any potential finalized bylaw.

If passed, the use of face masks inside public buildings, with certain exceptions, would be made mandatory if the total consolidated active cases of COVID-19 in both the City and County of Grande Prairie reached 100 cases.

City of Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given says the idea behind the amendment is to establish a middle ground that would delay the triggering of the mandate until active case numbers in the community warranted it.

“I believe that we have a responsibility under the legislation that creates the City of Grande Prairie to enact the bylaws that we see fit to ensure the health and safety of our community.”

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“This seems to me to be very in line with the mandate that we’re given by the provincial government to do what we can with the expert advice that we can access to protect the safety of our residents.”

If the mandate were activated, the bylaw would be in effect until January 1st, 2021, unless otherwise reviewed by city council, or the consolidated case numbers dropped below 100 active cases of COVID-19 for 14 consecutive days.

Given adds the province has been vague in their instructions in regards to how, when and at what threshold to create a public mandate for the use of masks.

“It’s a bit frustrating to be an order of government that is not currently charged with the responsibility for health care or public health.”

“We don’t have an ongoing direct relationship with that even though the legislation says we can make bylaws with respect to those sorts of issues.”

As of August 30th, the City of Grande Prairie has 20 active cases of COVID-19 and the County of Grande Prairie currently has 11. Discussions around Bylaw C-1426 will return to council on September 8th.

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