Central Alberta Health News

Drumheller council declares State of Local Emergency

The regular Monday, November 23 Drumheller council meeting was held remotely, with Mayor Heather Colberg, Deputy Mayor Jay Garbutt, and councillors joining via Zoom. A State of Local Emergency was declared, and council passed a mandatory mask bylaw after local cases of COVID-19 climbed to more than 60 active cases. (Screenshot of Drumheller council meeting)

DRUMHELLER – The continued rise in COVID-19 cases within the community prompted Drumheller council to declare a State of Local Emergency (SOLE) during the regular Monday, Nov. 23 council meeting, and approve a mandatory mask bylaw.

Over the last month, the number of COVID-19 cases has jumped dramatically, rising from a single case on Nov. 3 to 63 cases as of Nov. 23.

“Council and administration have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in our community and across the globe,” said Deputy Mayor Jay Garbutt during the meeting. “We’re deeply concerned about the rapid increase of cases in Drumheller and the rippling effects.”

 Drumheller previously entered a SOLE earlier this summer, which was lifted as cases remained minimal. Recently, cases have more than quadrupled from 15 active cases on Nov. 13 to 63 as of Nov. 23.

 Council committed to review the SOLE every 14 days and discussed whether the SOLE would be lifted once Drumheller fell below the enhanced status threshold of 10 active cases.

 “This doesn’t mean we would be enacting EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) or ICP (Incident Command Post) again,” said Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Darryl Drohomerski.

The motion to establish a State of Local Emergency was carried unanimously.

Section 24(1)(b) of the Emergency Management Act allows municipalities to exercise the same powers in a state of local emergency as the Minister may exercise in a provincial state of emergency (note that the current provincial state of public health emergency differs from a provincial state of emergency, and includes slightly different provincial powers). These powers are found in s. 19(1) and are as follows:

a. put into operation an emergency plan or program;

b. authorize or require a local authority to put into effect an emergency plan or program for the municipality;

c. acquire or utilize any real or personal property considered necessary to prevent, combat, or alleviate the effects of an emergency or disaster;

d. authorize or require any qualified person to render aid of a type the person is qualified to provide;

e. control or prohibit travel to or from any area of Alberta;

f. provide for the restoration of essential facilities and the distribution of essential supplies and provide, maintain, and coordinate emergency medical, welfare, and other essential services in any part of Alberta;

g. order the evacuation of persons and the removal of livestock and personal property from any area of Alberta that is or may be affected by a disaster and make arrangements for the adequate care and protection of those persons or livestock and of the personal property;

h. authorize the entry into any building or on any land, without warrant, by any person in the course of implementing an emergency plan or program;

i. cause the demolition or removal of any trees, structures, or crops if the demolition or removal is necessary or appropriate in order to reach the scene of a disaster, or to attempt to forestall its occurrence or to combat its progress;

j. procure or fix prices for food, clothing, fuel, equipment, medical supplies, or other essential supplies and the use of any property, services, resources, or equipment within any part of Alberta for the duration of the state of emergency;

k.authorize the conscription of persons needed to meet an emergency.

Following the declaration, Coun. Kristyne DeMott made a motion to put a mandatory mask bylaw into effect. 

By Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/The Drumheller Mail