There appeared to be no change in the position of town councillors on the adaption of face covering bylaw 20/2020, following a presentation by Cochrane resident Katrina Kitchen.
Last night, Kitchen went before council to ask for a public meeting on the bylaw. She also expressed grave concern over the bylaw's infringement upon personal rights.
Her online petition didn't garner enough support to trigger any legislative responsibilities. That, however, did not discourage her from appearing before council.
Kitchen said there is not enough scientific evidence to prove wearing face coverings is an effective tool against the spread of COVID-19 and there is evidence it can actually be counterproductive. She provided an abundance of information, including that from Alberta Health Services.
"Since council is not a panel of medical professionals, I'm curious as to what studies council enlisted doctors to conduct, or what medical studies were referenced and assessed regarding potential harms related to mask-wearing."
She says requiring face coverings shows a lack of true concern for citizens and says it appears to be have been a knee-jerk reaction to Calgary's mask bylaw.
Councillors did not attempt to address the question of lack of scientific evidence, but still remained unswayed by the arguments presented.
"All of us see the other side to the bylaw, but, again, it back to protecting the community overall, and that is why I personally voted in favour of it," said councillor Marni Fedekyo. "While I appreciate the information coming forward, it's not necessarily going to change my opinion on what I think is best for our community overall."
Councillor Morgan Nagel, who opposes the bylaw, praised Kitchen for striking out for personal freedoms.
"I personally think it's very important that people to continue fighting for civil liberties, even when it's not popular, in fact, especially when it's not popular. I know taking a stance was probably very tough for you. You probably faced a lot of backlash, so I really appreciate you having the courage to come here and do this here this evening, even if it's not necessarily going to go the way you were hoping."
Mayor Jeff Genung also praised her for having the courage to speak up for those opposing the masks in this contentious issue.
But he says the town simply can't take a chance.
"This bylaw represents council's commitment to continue to use every tool we can to ensure public safety to protect those residents and keep our economy open. I based my decision making on ensuring our economy can remain open, because we cannot afford to step backwards as we are seeing in Ontario."
Kitchen says she has no firm plans to pursue the issue further at this level but will continue to monitor the situation.
The presentation was accepted for information.
In order for the bylaw to be rescinded, a motion would have to be placed on the floor by a councillor who voted in favour of its institution on July 29, then carry a majority vote.
That means, neither councillors Nagel or Wilson who opposed the bylaw, would be able to put the motion of the floor.
Face masks will become mandatory in indoor public places or public vehicles in Cochrane should the number of active cases of COVID-19 in Cochrane rise to 10 or more.
There are some exceptions in Bylaw 20/2020 where a person would not be required to have a face cover, relating to health, physical activity, eating in public premises or temporary removal to provide or receive a service.
As of Sept. 27, there were three confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in Cochrane.