Edmonton mask debate: Council votes down a new mask statute for urban buildings

Edmontonians should not start masking themselves in more places after a new bylaws failed at City Hall on Tuesday.

With a vote of 8-5, city council members decided not to make masking mandatory in city-owned and operated facilities such as town halls and leisure centers.

Later Tuesday afternoon, city council members passed a transit-specific mask statute by a vote of 9-4, which is in line with provincial rules requiring masking on buses, LRTs and transit stations. Peace officers were then able to write tickets for violations, not just the police.

City councilors scrapped the city’s previous masking rules on March 8, the same day the provincial government passed a bill depriving all municipalities of the power to require masking in public spaces not owned by local governments.

“I’m still concerned that the province was moving too fast, too fast to remove COVID protection,” Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said on Tuesday.

“I’ve heard from a lot of voters who just want us to follow the province’s guidelines … it’s their jurisdiction, I’ve heard that several times,” Coun said. Karen Principe argued.

Municipalities in Alberta have some jurisdiction over health, and Prime Minister Jason Kenney called on local councils to make decisions about masking earlier in the pandemic. Bill 4 seeks to limit these powers in relation to the COVID-19 rules.

City council members were presented with four options:

  • No new articles of association
  • Masks required for transit (adapted to the province)
  • Masks required in city-owned and operated buildings
  • Masks required on transit and city owned and operated buildings

The fourth option was defeated and the second was still being considered.


Mayor Andre Corbould recommended that councilors approve the second option, so police are not the only ones who can write tickets.

“I have worn a mask everywhere I go and no one has shouted at me,” Corbould told the council.

He estimated that about 30 percent of people in rec centers still wore masks, even though it is no longer required.

Several city council members said staff safety was a consideration. Edmonton does not have enough peace officers to post at all of the city’s facilities to enforce the law and protect workers, Corbould said.

“I suppose 70 percent of (the patrons) will give our young people at the front doors a hard time. I can protect them, it’s my job to protect them and we will do our best, but there are some things you can do. ‘t unheart, “Corbould said of having adopted broader mask rules.

“We do not want to be bullied into a decision of aggressive behavior by a small minority, but we also have an obligation to our staff,” Sohi said. He voted against masking in the city’s facilities.

Councilors Andrew Knack, Micheal Janz, Ashley Salvador, Anne Stevenson and Jo-Anne Wright voted in favor of masking in several places.

The city recently surveyed more than 66,000 people and found that only 30 percent wanted the previous statute for indoor mask to remain, with 68 percent wanting it gone and two percent unsure.

However, this study was not limited to residents of Edmonton, and some city council members were in doubt about how it was conducted.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson

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