LETHBRIDGE, AB – The City of Lethbridge temporary face-covering bylaw may not be extended again later this month.
A City Council Committee is recommending the local bylaw expire on February 23rd, however it’s not as cut and dry as it sounds.
After some debate Thursday afternoon (Feb. 11) and tossing around a few different options, members of the Standing Policy Committee voted 3-1 to recommend that local Bylaw 6239 not be extended.
One of the options up for debate Thursday was consideration of extending this bylaw till December 31st of this year.
Councillors Blaine Hyggen, Ryan Parker, and Joe Mauro voted to recommend the bylaw not be extended. Councillor Mark Campbell voted against.
The catch, though is this is only a recommendation and still has to go before the next full meeting of City Council later this month before getting approved.
Right now the provincial masking mandate supersedes the local bylaw, but if Council decided to go with this recommendation in two weeks, that would mean mask wearing in public would end ONLY once the Alberta government decides to make the change.
Even with that, Council could introduce a new masking bylaw for debate at a later date.
City Bylaw Officer Dave Henley told the Committee that overall, the face covering bylaw has been successful here, largely based on education.
Councillor Blaine Hyggen, who supported this option of not extending the bylaw, felt we should be following what Alberta health officials are recommending and let them dictate what is best. The Committee was told coronavirus case numbers here are being monitored on a daily basis.
The often controversial bylaw was put in place last August to try and cut down on the spread of COVID-19, however masking policies across Alberta have sparked protests from some people who feel it violates their charter rights.
The provincial mask mandate came into play a few months later.
Lethbridge City Council meets again on February 23rd.