Calgarians can now walk mask-free.
The city council voted 10-4 on Monday to repeal its masking statute, with the exception of Calgary Transit, city-owned facilities, taxis and ridesharing. These areas will continue to require masks until the city manager signs the bylaws.
But the statutes were delayed when Cou. Druh Farrell opposed unanimous approval for the third reading.
When they returned after lunch, the motion was passed 10: 4, with Farrell, Gian-Carlo Carra, Jyoti Gondek and George Chahal being defeated in their attempt to uphold the Mask Statute.
Active cases recorded in the past two weeks have decreased while vaccination rates have increased. The positivity rate for COVID-19 infections is around 1.1%. Hospital stays and intensive care stays are also at a low level. The number of cases is currently the lowest since October 2020.
“The trends are definitely encouraging after so many months of COVID-19 in our city,” Sue Henry, director of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, told the city council.
It recommended that the Mask bylaws – which should apply by the end of the year – be dropped, with the exception of Calgary transit and buildings. Users of taxis and carpooling must also wear their face covering. This regulation also applies to the province.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he was “very tired” of politicizing the issue.
And he beat up Prime Minister Jason Kenney, who beat up the city for upholding the statute that the province “pleaded” with the city to do just that. He said Kenney’s recent comments were “a little rich”.
Nenshi said he was still concerned about the increase in Delta variants but that he was “comfortable” with dropping the regulation.
Count. Dianne Colley-Urqhart supported the motion, a move dated June 21, when she voted to keep the statutes.
Count. Jeromy Farkas said the city council created “unnecessary fear and confusion” by not dropping the charter on July 1st.
And he refused to support the part of the movement that calls for masks for the public entering city facilities.
Nenshi beat up Alberta Health Services, saying they were “extremely frustrating.”
He pointed out that the city had asked to set up a vaccination clinic at the Genesis Center in the northeast over a weekend. Instead, AHS is open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a weekday
Nenshi said AHS has shown “shocking resistance” to urban ideas to increase vaccination rates.
Carra said he wanted the charter to continue and said wearing a mask was “smart”.
Gondek also refused to drop the statutes as it was about protecting children who were not vaccinated.
Farrell voted against and read a letter from an elector who said that councilors who vote against “should be burned at the stake”.
On Canada Day, the province dropped all of its COVID-19 regulations across the province, but two weeks ago the Calgary Council voted to keep its mask statute in effect until July 5th.
The council voted to keep it in place due to a 7-7 tie.
The seven who then voted against the repeal were Jyoti Gondek, George Chahal, Druh Farrell, Evan Woolley, Gian-Carlo Carra, Diane Colley-Urquhart, and Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
Dave Naylor is the Western Standard’s news editor