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County of Wetaskiwin shoots down mandatory masking bylaw

County Council votes against implementing a County-wide mandatory masking bylaw.

Wetaskiwin County Council met on Dec. 8, 2020 for their regular Council General Meeting.

During the meeting they discussed current COVID-19 strategy for the County.

As of Dec. 6, 2020 the County of Wetaskiwin has 21 active COVID-19 cases and the City of Wetaskiwin has 71 active COVID-19 cases.

According to Maskwacis Health Services, Maskwacis has 158 active COVID-19 cases.

County Council has received numerous letters from County residents requesting that Council implement a mandatory masking bylaw across the County of Wetaskiwin. Given the continuously rising number of cases in the Wetaskiwin area, and the non-implementation of a mandatory province wide masking mandate by the provincial government in Jason Kenney’s Nov. 24, 2020 announcement, residents are calling on the County to implement masking.

Former Reeve and current Council member for Division 2, Terry Van de Kraats, brought forward the motion for a mandatory masking bylaw at the Council General meeting, stating his strong support for said bylaw to go through.

“No freedom is being taken away by asking someone to wear a mask,” said Councillor Van de Kraats. “We can do our small part by putting a mask bylaw in place.”

Councillor Kathy Rooyakkers, Division 6, spoke up against the creation of a mandatory masking bylaw.

“People are taking their own ownership,” she said. Rooyakkers says that she believes residents should be able to use their own judgment on wearing a mask.

Reeve Josh Bishop also spoke against having a mandatory masking bylaw citing that the County should follow the Government of Alberta’s lead and he doesn’t plan to make a decision that would conflict with the provincial government’s decision.

In regards to his decision to make a motion on a mandatory masking bylaw Councillor Van de Kraats said, “It’s just being responsible.”

Council voted on the motion brought forward by Councillor Van de Kraats and the motion was defeated 4-3.

Councillors Van de Kraats, Adair and Woitt voted in favour of a mandatory masking bylaw and Councillors Rooyakkers, Bishop, Seely and Krahn voted against it.

An additional motion was made for Council to draft a mandatory masking bylaw for Council to review at a later date dependent on the current COVID-19 status of the County of Wetaskiwin. The motion was carried.



shaela.dansereau@pipestoneflyer.ca

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