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Councillors split on potential mandatory mask bylaw

Last Updated Jul 14, 2020 at 12:21 pm MDT

Packages of face masks on April 29, 2020. CITYNEWS/Tony Fera

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – With Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal making face masks mandatory, some are raising the question of whether Calgary needs similar rules.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi has said if people don’t take it upon themselves to wear a mask in public indoor spaces and on transit, the City would look at making them mandatory.

READ MORE: Nenshi says mandatory masks could happen in Calgary

If the vote does come up in council, it seems the councillors themselves are split on which way they’d fall.

Councillors Joe Magliocca, Diane Colley-Urguhart, Ray Jones, and Sean Chu spoke against making masks mandatory.

“I do not support making masks mandatory,” Magliocca said.

“I don’t feel it’s right; we’re adults.”

“Calgarians respect each other, they know when to wear a mask and when to not wear a mask.”

Colley-Urquhart says Calgarians don’t need to be told when they must put on masks because they’ve already been doing a good job of deciding for themselves.

“I’ve gotta say, I am so proud of Calgarians and the steps they’re taking on their own, wearing masks and physically distancing.”

Ray Jones agrees, saying Calgarians shouldn’t be forced to wear masks, and if they were, masks should be free.

“I’m claustrophobic when I wear the mask.”

“Some of us can’t breathe properly when we’re wearing those. And they have to make them more easily accessible.”

Chu says he believes the time for mandatory masks has already passed.

“Yes, wearing masks protects others and is very important. However, this should’ve been mandatory at the beginning, not the end.”

He says we should not punish people for not wearing masks now and that Calgarians are very responsible.

However, in the cases of Magliocca and Jones, they believe masks should be used in certain situations.

“I do support masks on public transit, it should be optional inside other public, private buildings,” Magliocca said.

However, he says he wouldn’t support masks being mandatory on transit, saying people don’t need to be told to use masks because they aren’t “stupid and naive”.

“At the end of the day, with 1.4 million people in Calgary, three people in ICU, it’s not a big threat.”

Jones says he thinks masks should be mandatory in transit and public buildings but would still not vote in favour of them being so.

RELATED: Push for mandatory masks continues to grow

On the other side of the argument, councillors Druh Farrell, Evan Woolley, and Gian-Carlo Carra, along with the mayor, would vote “yes” for mandatory masks.

“This is the only way to keep ourselves out of another lockdown,” Carra said.

He says the city needs “to make it extremely clear that mask-wearing is a critical, critical part of getting through COVID together.”

“If we’re not all wearing masks, we’re going back in the hole,” Carra said.

“The only way we’re getting through COVID-19 together is if we start wearing masks indoors all the time.”

RELATED: Should mask-wearing be mandatory for Calgary Transit riders?

Councillors Peter Demong, George Chahal, and Jyoti Gondek say they have not made up their minds and would need more information before deciding.

“We need to provide clarity for all Calgarians, so they have a clear understanding of what we are doing and what the impacts are,” Chahal said.

Gondek says she will need to see the bylaw first.

“If we’re going to keep things contained while staying open, it’s certainly something we’ll need to look at.”

Councillors Ward Sutherland and Jeff Davison say masks should be made mandatory on transit, but they’re not sure on how enforcement would work.

Jeromy Farkas said he is undecided on the issue and is reviewing the recommendations from Alberta Health.