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Criminologist believes a new enforcement approach is needed after rodeo near Bowden

Last Updated May 5, 2021 at 9:36 am MDT

A cowboy wrestles a steer to the ground during the Calgary Stampede Rodeo. Sunday, July 7th, 2019. (PHOTO: Tom Ross, 660 NEWS)

BOWDEN (660 NEWS) – A “no lockdowns rodeo” held near Bowden over the weekend is a concern in the town, about an hour north of Calgary, even though the event itself was held outside city limits.

And now the mayor of the town is speaking out.

“I was quite surprised that it actually went ahead as it did,” said Robb Stuart, Mayor of Bowden. “The ICUs are filling up and just because you don’t believe in it doesn’t make it right.”

Stuart says initially the event flaunting health restrictions was going to be at the rodeo grounds, but it was moved. That’s when the mayor said he reached out to his MLA, health officials and the premier’s office too.

“And they said that it’s not the premier’s office policy to intervene in Alberta Health Services jurisdictions, and I never heard anything more.”

Now even though the event went ahead outside of the town, the mayor says Bowden is left with the black eye.

“I got a letter from a nurse in Calgary saying she was very disappointed in the town that her job is made way more hard because of events like this.”

READ MORE: ‘I just don’t understand:’ Bowden mayor says he tried to see what could be done to prevent no-lockdown rodeo

“The justice department needs to re-tool the legislation and move forward with new approaches,” said Kelly Sundberg, Criminologist, Mount Royal University.

Sunberg says upping enforcement is key if health officials want to get a hold of the pandemic and bring it under control.

“Stampede, Klondike Days, we have all sorts of major events that require coordinated enforcement activity. To say that it is just too big, or people aren’t listening. That’s just a bunch of rubbish.”

According to Sunberg, other countries have the virus already under control and heavy enforcement is starting to show in other provinces like British Columbia.

RELATED: Alberta’s former top doctor responds to rodeo near Bowden

“Our premier can just pick up the phone and call the premier of British Columbia and say hey how are you getting the numbers down your bigger than us, your precarious situation right beside us, how you manage this. Can you help us out?” added Sunberg.

There is talk of organizers saddling up for another rodeo and the mayor hopes it won’t happen as things could get worse.

“It definitely, if there are people of that mindset coming into your commute, it increases your chance of infection in my opinion.”

Meantime Stuart says he saw an increase in shopping activity over the weekend, and the highway through Bowden was quite busy.

He adds, while the extra traffic might be good for business, he also heard a lot of the people going into shops and liquor stores were not wearing masks.

“We’re hoping that there’s not a spin-off that will impact our community.”