Blackfalds council passes bylaw making masks mandatory

BLACKFALDS– Following suit with other municipalities, the Town of Blackfalds Council approved the mandatory face coverings bylaw brought forward by the Emergency Management & Protective Services Manager during last evening’s meeting.

Face coverings will be mandatory in Blackfalds starting Nov. 30 until further notice and applies to any indoor public spaces and public transportation within the Town limits, including businesses and municipal buildings. Anyone not wearing a face covering will be subject to a $100 fine or more.

This is a temporary bylaw that will be reviewed during the first Council meeting in January 2021.

“I think that the transferred responsibility by the Provincial Government in their avoidance in giving Albertans a standardized masked bylaw is deplorable,” said Deputy Mayor Rebecca Stendie during the council meeting. “Seeing as more than three-quarters of the population is now under a mandatory mask bylaw of one kind or another, it makes sense that we would try to be consistent with our expectations of our residents and follow suit.”

As the COVID-19 cases rise, more and more municipalities are accepting the responsibility to issue mandatory face-covering protocols in the absence of a province-wide mandate. The Town of Blackfalds, as per the Municipal Government Act, can pass bylaws respecting the safety, health, and welfare of people and the protection of people and property within its jurisdiction.

Mayor Richard Poole also expressed his disappointment in the provincial government’s lack of mandate and explained that the responsibility now lies in Blackfalds’ hands. 

“I will be voting in favour of this [bylaw]. I do feel this should have been a provincial responsibility, not one that was downloaded to the municipality,” he said. “If I am going to tell my grandchild that they must put on a mask, then I should have a mask on to protect the people around me. There are businesses out there that want this, but they don’t want to be the bad guy.”

As a small-business owner himself, Coun. Ray Olfert expressed concerns regarding the signage that businesses will require for letting their customers know about the changes. Protective Services Manager Ken Morrison reassured him that the Town of Blackfalds would provide these resources to ensure the proper phrasing.

“I vote in favour of this bylaw because [when] it comes down to it, at this particular time, the message of love and care is behind [this bylaw]. It is about keeping us safe, and right now, it is the right thing to do,” said Coun. Will Taylor. 

During this time, the town is asking for patience and respect towards those who are implementing the bylaw, including town staff, enforcement officers, and business employees and owners.

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