Following a close 4-3 vote, town council won't be extending its face coverings bylaw beyond May 1.

Town administration had recommended extending the bylaw until Dec. 31, 2021, to ensure consistency with the town's overall approach to the pandemic.

Mayor Jeff Genung and councillors Morgan Nagel, Alex Reed, and Patrick Wilson disagreed and defeated first reading of the bylaw.

After May 1, government-imposed mask rules will be strictly dictated by the province. Businesses, however, have the right to implement higher standards, as we saw when the pandemic first hit.

Mayor Jeff Genung encouraged councillors to defeat the motion. He says his view shouldn't be conceived as a partisan statement on face mask use.

"From my standpoint, it's a second layer of government that's not necessary."

He said council could put it back into effect in short order if it was deemed necessary.

"We have the ability to call a special council meeting if we need to adapt to a circumstance that may present itself in the future."

Councillor Marni Fedeyko favoured extending it beyond the date of the fall civic election so it doesn't become an election issue. 

"As much as I think people have accepted it, they haven't. It's not for everybody. I think we need to leave something in effect to keep our community safe and healthy right now and not make this an election issue as to who agrees and who doesn't."

Councillor Tara McFadden believes Cochranites should set their own course, above and beyond what the province decides.

"If a regionalization decision was to come into play or more broadly, I think Cochrane is best served if we're looking after what best serves our 30,000 residents, than to not have any say, necessarily, on a blanket decision."

Susan Flowers believes it's easier to leave it on the books than to try and reinstate it.

Both councillors Patrick Wilson and Morgan Nagel were opposed to creating the bylaw from day one. 

The town bylaw requires face coverings to be worn in public places and businesses within the municipality until we reach below 10 active cases for at least 14 consecutive days.

It is superseded by the province's mandatory order.