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Potential mask bylaw repeal coming to Calgary city council

Citizens are ready to move beyond Covid-19 and eliminate the confusion around restrictions, says one Calgary city councillor.

That’s why Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean will put forward an addition to the city’s Covid-19 update, calling for the immediate repeal of Calgary’s face coverings bylaw.

Last week, after Alberta laid out its plan to remove public health restrictions, a Calgary committee voted against creating its own vaccine passport.  That left the city’s face coverings bylaw the lone local public health legislation.

A Covid-19 briefing item will appear on the consent agenda at Tuesday’s combined meeting of council.

McLean told LiveWire Calgary that item would be pulled to add his recommendation. It would then need the approval of council.

“If we pull it completely, then it doesn’t get muddy or dirty, where you have to worry about ages under 12 or on buses or transit,” he told LiveWire Calgary.

“Once we’ve pulled this bylaw in its entirety, then it reverts totally back into provincial mandates.”

In last week’s provincial announcement, masks for kids would be dropped Feb. 14. Should numbers trend in the right direction, the province said its mask mandate would mostly end March 1.

The City of Calgary’s Matt Zabloski told councillors last week there were no specific criteria for the repeal of Calgary’s face covering bylaw.

“Rather than settling on one specific metric, the thought was at that point to repeal based on the continued trend,” he said.

‘… Ready to move on’

McLean said once you get outside of city hall, people are saying it’s time to think about post-Covid life.

“When you put your ear to the ground, and you listen to people in a pub or on the street or on your social media… but the majority of people are ready to move on,” he said.

Other countries are pulling down measures, as are many US states, McLean said.

On Friday, Edmonton city councillors decided they wouldn’t move ahead with their own vaccine passport. Calgary made the same decision earlier in the week.

McLean said the passport measure lost decisively (4-10 vote) and he expects the repeal to see similar majority support.

Last week, the city’s Community Development committee did vote to ask for more data to make informed decisions on local public health decisions.  

Committee chair Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner said she doesn’t support aligning with the province at this time.  She does understand the Covid fatigue among citizens though.

“I share in the desire for consistency and normalcy,” Penner said.

“But I don’t think desire should be what drives our decisions. I think the data should drive it.”

She was considering bringing forward a plan to include data criteria for the mask repeal to Tuesday’s meeting. That got sidelined when consensus on the appropriate data for the repeal couldn’t be reached.

Since they couldn’t be guaranteed the province would continue providing data, it made that direction difficult, Penner said.