Rocky Mountain House council rejects mandatory masking

Residents asked to comment on social media were overwhelmingly against mandatory masks

Rocky Mountain House will not make mask wearing mandatory, an issue that became a hot social media topic in town.

A notice of motion last week from Coun. Jason Alderson prompted the discussion in council on Tuesday. Alderson said he was not taking a position one way or the other in making his motion but felt it was worth discussion in light of Calgary and other communities bringing in mandatory masking in indoor public areas.

Alderson asked for feedback on Facebook last week and more than 160 comments were posted, overwhelmingly against.

“The reality is it’s a hot issue,” said Alderson. “There are things going on in society and what kind of council would we be if we were not discussing things.”

Alderson said given the public response to mandatory masking at this time, he saw no need to propose any legislation and to continue to follow Alberta Health Services guidelines.

Mayor Tammy Burke said the town has been following the AHS guidelines and saw no need for municipal mask regulations but that it is a “very fluid situation.

“It could change. We could be told in a week by Alberta Health or the government that we have to do something different.

“At this point, it makes sense to follow what the professionals are telling us to do.”

Coun. Len Phillips also did not see a need to mandate any mask wearing now unless prompted by Alberta Health Services.

“Decisions that Edmonton and Calgary make and decisions that Rocky Mountain House makes are made based on different criteria, different decisions, different emotions.

“We haven’t had a lot of cases in Rocky Mountain House and still don’t have a lot of cases, even with the influx of people driving through here going out west during the summer.

“If there had been a lot more cases this would probably be a different discussion.

“From what I’m hearing from the public of Rocky Mountain House and the number of emails we received it’s an overwhelming response that people don’t want masks mandated unless Alberta Health Services does that.

“The message was received loud and clear.”

On Monday, Red Deer city council passed a bylaw requiring all transit riders to wear masks. Council opted not to make any decision on whether mandatory masking should be extended to other public places.

That issue tabled and will only be re-visited if local COVID-19 cases dramatically increase.

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