Town of HP keeps its mandatory mask bylaw

Masks like these are mandatory in public places in High Prairie if COVID-19 cases reach 15.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

The Town of High Prairie is keeping its mandatory face covering [mask] bylaw.

Council defeated a motion to rescind the bylaw at its July 27 meeting in a tie vote. A majority vote is needed to pass any motion.

Mayor Brian Panasiuk, and councillors Arlen Quartly and Judy Stenhouse wanted to scrap the bylaw, but councillors Donna Deynaka, Brian Gilroy and Michael Long voted against.

The bylaw comes into effect when there are 15 or more cases of COVID in the Big Lakes region and remains in effect for 15 days after the number of cases drops below 15.

Gilroy spoke first and said he could only vote for the bylaw if it was made clear to the public that wearing a mask was not mandatory but optional.

Long, who has always voted in favour of the bylaw, opposed rescinding.

“With all due respect, that’s not how I feel,” he said.

“The [COVID variants] are deadly. We can still transmit it to people who are not vaccinated.”

In regard to people who do not wear masks, he added, “They’re endangering people’s lives and it’s as simple as wearing a mask or getting vaccinated.”

Deynaka also wanted to keep the bylaw.

“I don’t think we’re over this yet. It’s creeping up by the day. Precaution is prevention.”

She concluded that wearing a mask “far outweighs anybody’s freedom.”

“I would like this mask bylaw to say in place,” she concluded.

Panasiuk favoured rescinding the bylaw because the Alberta government was looked to by the public for direction and not individual municipalities.

“I think we should repeal this and at any time we can implement it,” he said.

“Just because we repeal it doesn’t mean it’s gone forever,” he added.

Quartly also wanted the bylaw scrapped.

“I think we should side with the Province and go with that.”

Earlier at the meeting, Dr. Nathan Rider of 19 to Zero attended the meting by Zoom to give information on COVID.

“We provide information but not recommendations,” said the Calgary doctor when asked for his opinion on the town’s bylaw.

“Masks are very effective in preventing the spread,” Rider told council.

“We know masking is effective.”

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