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Town council repeals mask bylaw

·3 min read

Council made it clear that masks are still mandatory across the province even though the Town has repealed its Temporary Mandatory Mask and Face Coverings Bylaw No. 1151.

A typographical error was found in the bylaw that stated it would be rescinded the same day it was implemented. This was not council’s intention.

CAO Emily Olsen explained that the current mask bylaw is no longer required due to the Public Health Order addressing the mandatory use of face masks in all indoor public places in the province.

The provincial mask protocol remains enforceable by local community peace officers, but no fines have been issued under Hinton’s bylaw since it was enforced in November 2020.

“I think this is a good step in ensuring our local operations are aligned with the province,” said Coun. Albert Ostashek. “I’m happy to hear that if council feels there’s a need to have another bylaw that doesn’t align exactly with the provincial guidelines at some point in the future that it would be easily achievable.”

The temporary bylaw was first introduced in Hinton when council was looking for provincial leadership to ensure protections were in place, explained Coun. Ryan Maguhn. He noted that if council wants to take another stance on restrictions in the future, supporting documentation is ready to use.

“Any future bylaw could be pulled together fairly quickly based on Bylaw No. 1151 as a template, providing a proof read and making sure everything is as it should be,” said Olsen.

Bylaw No. 1151 was passed at the Nov. 20, 2020 special council meeting. On Dec. 8, 2020, the Government of Alberta issued a public health order stating that masks are mandatory in all indoor public places in the province.

While researching ways to align Bylaw No. 1151 with the Provincial masking restrictions, administration discovered the typographical error in the Bylaw and sought legal advice.

The Town’s legal counsel reiterated the error was a typographical error. Section 63(2)(g)(i) of the Municipal Government Act allows Council to make changes, without materially affecting the bylaw in principle or substance to correct clerical, technical, grammatical, or typographical errors in a bylaw.

“I do apologize to the community, I did not see that extra verbiage in there to cause confusion. It’s quite unfortunate,” said Mayor Marcel Michaels.

Repealing the bylaw does not affect the requirement for masks in indoor public spaces, as the public health order remains in effect.

At the same time as the Town repealed their mask bylaw, the provincial government announced a return to Step one restrictions.

As of midnight on April 6 there was lower capacity for retail centres, one-on-one fitness training only, restricted lessons and sporting activities for children, no performance activities, and closed libraries.

On Friday at noon in-door dining at restaurants will not be allowed, but pick-up, curbside, and takeout delivery will not be affected.

Outdoor patios will be allowed to stay open as well.

According to current projections, Alberta would hit its maximum capacity for the medical system in mid-May, said Premier Jason Kenney while announcing the new restrictions on April 6.

Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice