Back in July Cochrane Town Council approved the mandatory mask bylaw which went into effect when active cases reached ten. The bylaw had a sunset date of February 1, 2021. Fast forward eight months to yesterday which was Monday, February 1st and Town Council was in a special meeting last night to address the significant date. Technically, the bylaw would lapse as of the 1st, and council was asked by the administration to address the issue.
CAO Mike Derricott explained “At this point, we are only asking council to consider basically the sunsetting clause, and if we are to move forward in the future with a review of the bylaw it would bring the entirety of the bylaw before council for consideration.”
The landscape has changed since the bylaw was put in place as there was no provincial mandate at that time however, the provincial government has since mandated masks provincewide.
While councillors Nagel and Wilson reiterated their opposition to the mask bylaw (as they did in July). Nagel saying "I really would like to keep a sunset clause in place if we are going to pass the bylaw." He added that he remains opposed to the bylaw and feels now that the provincial government has taken up the task there is no need for the town to continue. “I think we should leave it to the experts and I think we should let Dr. Deena Hinshaw decide when we should have masks in Alberta and we shouldn’t be acting as a healthcare authority in the municipal government.”
Councillors Tara McFadden, Marni Fedeyko, Susan Flowers, Alex Reed, and Mayor Jeff Genung were in favour of keeping the bylaw in place with a new sunset date. Councillors Morgan Nagel and Patrick Wilson did not oppose setting a new sunset date for the mask bylaw.
Several dates were bantered about with Councillor McFadden initially suggesting July. Councillor Fedyko suggested April as she felt July was too far off. Councillor Flowers agreed with July 1 and said that they could always be called back before that to revisit. Saying, “We put a lot of thought into it (the bylaw) and I thought we made a good decision I would like to see it stay on the books.”
In the end, it was decided by council to keep the mandatory mask bylaw in place with a new sunset date to be revisited on May 1, 2021.