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Carra calls Emergency Management Committee meeting to discuss COVID-19 fourth wave

City councillors will have the chance to talk about COVID-19 after the councillor who chairs the emergency management committee called a meeting for Friday.

Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said this was a way to get into the conversation on rising COVID-19 numbers and the Delta variant concern. The committee hasn’t met since May 25.

Yesterday, the province updated COVID-19 cases numbers from the weekend and there were more than 3,000 confirmed cases and seven additional deaths.

To date, efforts to gather Calgary city council together have been stifled. Coun. Jyoti Gondek has advocated for a special meeting along with Carra and Couns. Shane Keating, Druh Farrell and George Chahal. 

Meanwhile, in Edmonton, their city council recently decided to reinstate a masking policy.

“As the chair of the emergency management committee, I said why don’t we just get CEMA (Calgary Emergency Management Agency) folks and experts to talk to us about where we’re at in this fourth wave,” Carra told LiveWire Calgary.

He said council needs to be informed on the current COVID-19 situation. They need to outline the options the city has in terms of masks, a state of local emergency, and what to do with the city’s workforce.

Carra is hoping there will be some recommendations that come from this meeting that could go to the Sept. 13 full meeting of council. He’d also like to see if there’s a consensus among the group to call a special meeting sooner than that.

“With this conversation over text and social media and the stunning absence of anything from the province, we have to start moving. We have to start reacting a little bit faster to what’s unfolding in front of us,” he said.

Minister acknowledges fourth wave

In Tuesday’s fiscal update, Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews answered questions on the provincial absence since the massive uptick in cases.

Toews said there has been daily communication around the pandemic. He was likely referring to the social media updates provided by the accounts of Premier Jason Kenney, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, or Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

“I have full confidence in our chief medical officer of health and our health minister to, at the appropriate time, make themselves available for the press,” he said.

“Look, we’re in the fourth wave at this point in time. The Delta variant is very contagious, cases are going up. That wasn’t unexpected at this point in time.”

As mentioned, so far support for a special meeting hasn’t been there. If there’s still no resolution after this meeting, Carra said perhaps public pressure will mount.

“I think what we should do is we should inform both ourselves and the public with the latest data and the latest state of the conversation and do that as publicly as we can, and either take action or allow ourselves to receive pressure to take action from our constituents and from the citizens,” he said.

Carra also acknowledged this as a very political time, with both federal and municipal elections in full throttle. He said this isn’t something we should be political about.

“I guess if I’m damned if I do and if I’m damned if I don’t in that political situation. I’m going to still try and do what I need to do as the chair of the Emergency Management Committee to inform council and the citizenry,” he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Coun. Jeff Davison, who is also running for mayor, said the provincial response hasn’t been up to snuff.

“My expectation that the Province of Alberta would act on the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases has not been met,” Davison said.

“I will do whatever is necessary to keep Calgarians safe and keep our economy open. Provincial action would be much more effective at addressing this situation, but in the absence of a response, it’s up to the City to act now.”

The meeting will be held Sept. 1 at 1 p.m. in council chambers. It can be viewed via the city’s live webfeed.