By Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/Strathmore Times
STRATHMORE – Strathmore town council voted against adopting a face covering bylaw.
On Sept. 16, town council passed the first reading of a proposed face covering (“mask”) bylaw that if passed, would require people (with some exceptions) to use face coverings in all indoor public places in Strathmore and businesses to advertise such requirements under penalty of fine.
As with any town bylaw, three separate readings of the bylaw must be passed by council through a majority two-thirds vote for it to be enacted. The move to adopt first reading of the bylaw was described as a precautionary measure, so if cases of COVID-19 were to rise locally, the bylaw could be returned to council to potentially be enacted into law through second and third readings.
With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing locally and throughout much of the province, and with Strathmore and surrounding Wheatland County receiving ‘Enhanced’ status (meaning risk levels require enhanced public health measures to control virus spread, as per Alberta Health Services), the bylaw returned to council for consideration on Nov. 18.
During the meeting, a motion to pass second reading of the proposed mask bylaw was defeated however, on a 4-3 vote. Mayor Pat Fule and Councillors Denise Peterson and Bob Sobol voted in support, but Councillors Lorraine Bauer, Tari Cockx, Melanie Corbiell, Jason Montgomery together voted in opposition to defeat the motion.
For town council to consider a mask bylaw again within six months, there would need to be support from one or more of the councillors who voted in opposition last night. Under the town’s procedural bylaws, any motion similar to one already voted on in the previous six months without reconsidering the original motion (requiring a two-thirds vote) is considered out of order.