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RFD- 4030 Bylaws   Item #   10. h.    
Regular Council Meeting Agenda
Meeting Date: 08/17/2020  
Title:    C-1128-20 - Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw - All Three Readings - Wolanski
Department: Community & Protective Services  
Strategic Vision Element: Where People Choose to Experience Community - A vibrant place for community involvement and social wellness Related Goal: Citizens feel safe within their communities.

Information
Request for Decision Summary
The COVID-19 pandemic remains a health risk and the City of Spruce Grove (City) continues to follow health and safety guidelines provided by the Government of Alberta in order to reduce the spread. With businesses reopening, more social interactions and the number of cases across the Edmonton region increasing, additional measures may be necessary to mitigate substantive increases of positive cases in the local community.

Proposed Motion
First reading is recommended for approval on the consent agenda:
That first reading be given to Bylaw C-1128-20 - Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw.
 

The following motions are also recommended:
That second reading be given to Bylaw C-1128-20 - Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw.
 
That unanimous consent be given for consideration of third reading of Bylaw C-1128-20 - Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw.
 
That third reading be given to Bylaw C-1128-20 - Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw.
Background/Analysis
On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic related to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The COVID-19 pandemic remains a significant public health risk. Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy’s gradual reopening of business and the resumption of activities has resulted in more people gathering in public, returning to work, and resuming activities. While there have been very few active cases in Spruce Grove, we have been seeing an increase in active cases in the Province at-large. The Government of Alberta continues to indicate that they do not have province-wide plans for mandatory face coverings and have left the decision regarding face covering requirements to municipalities and local businesses or organizations, except in the case of schools where the Province has recently declared that mandatory face coverings will be required by all school children in grades 4-12.

The City of Spruce Grove held a Special Council Meeting on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 where administration presented Council with information related to various approaches that have been used to address face coverings in municipalities in Alberta and across Canada.  While there are some differences, each approach highlights a general perspective on the following categories:
  • Scope – policy and/or bylaw
  • What – definition of a face covering
  • Where - locations where face coverings are to be worn
  • Who – who is included/exempted from wearing face coverings and when/where
  • Nature of enforcement – who enforces; the municipality directly (Edmonton) or through the business community (Toronto)
  • Penalty for non-compliance
  • Date of implementation
One further consideration that has been discussed by a handful of municipalities is a bylaw outlining the above categories but triggering the coming-into-force date based on the pandemic infection rate.  Alberta Health Services has three levels it codes zones and local areas at:
  • Open (less than 50 cases per 100,000 population)
  • Watch (at least ten (10) active cases and more than 50 active cases per 100,000 population)
  • Enhanced (risk levels require enhanced public health measures to control the spread and are informed specifically by the local context)
Administration sought direction from Council on a number of options.  At the Special Council meeting, Council directed administration to prepare a bylaw that included trigger points for the bylaw coming into force and also for when it would likewise be inactive based on the severity of cases in the municipality.  Additional input was provided regarding City facilities, enhanced education campaigns promoting mask use in the city, and continued discussion with Provincial officials on the desire for the Government of Alberta to take a more proactive approach vs. leaving it within municipal authority.

The following is a general overview of the proposed bylaw and additional measures by the City:
  • The Mayor's Office will forward a letter on behalf of City Council asking the Government of Alberta to re-consider implementing mandatory face coverings following a performance metrics formula vs. a one size fits all approach.
  • The City's Emergency Management Agency has implemented mandatory face coverings in all City owned/operated indoor facilities and transit regardless of whether a bylaw is active or inactive.
  • The City is developing an enhanced education campaign encouraging residents, visitors, and businesses to wear and implement face coverings.  
  • The definition of face coverings contained in the bylaw aligns with the Government of Alberta and other municipalities.  The intent of a "face covering" is to cover the nose, mouth, and chin of an individual.
  • Exceptions listed in the bylaw and places where the bylaw would not be in effect are consistent with most bylaws enacted or proposed at this time or are a result of lack of municipal jurisdiction (i.e. schools, hospitals, childcare facilities).
  • Age exception of 2 years of age aligns with other municipalities.  It should be noted that no minor under 12 can be charged with any offence.  As such, the intent is to ensure greater participation, including from youth.  
  • The trigger point or threshold for implementing the bylaw has been set based on the determination and formula the Province uses to place a municipality under a "watch".  As identified above, for the City of Spruce Grove the current formula for a watch would mean 18 active cases along with other factors.  This threshold is recommended rather than a specific number as it allows for greater flexibility if the Province amends its formula (lower or higher) or if there are examples of active cases that may put Spruce Grove over the threshold number but are considered contained at a specific facility and not give cause to place the City under a "watch".  Also, it allows the municipality to clearly identify and point to the heightened awareness not only from local officials but provincial ones as well. 
  • The deactivation of the bylaw similarly includes a removal of the watch designation; however, the bylaw would remain active for a period of 14 days following the change in designation to ensure that the City is not constantly changing back and forth in short intervals.  This is further rationale for using the "watch" designation as the trigger point vs. a number that may fluctuate more frequently than a "watch" designation. 
  • Enforcement of the bylaw would be designated to the City.  At the same time, it must be stated that the City would have limited resources to respond to and action every individual complaint in regards to alleged contraventions.  The emphasis will be on education and awareness and enforcement responses prioritized appropriately.   
At the time of drafting the bylaw and report the City has only 1 active case of COVID-19.  
 
A further consideration is the supply of face coverings.  As regional transit systems recommenced in the area, a limited number of face coverings were provided to transit riders in Spruce Grove.  There is not an intention to continue supplying face coverings to the public on an ongoing basis as there is a growing supply available to the public through a variety of means.  Most municipalities that have either implemented, or are considering implementing a bylaw at a certain point similar to what is proposed for the City, have indicated that it would be the responsibility of the individual to supply their own face coverings.  
Options/Alternatives
Council may wish to consider any or a combination of the following options:
 
1.    Delay all three readings based on proposed changes or amendments.
 
2.    Pause approval of the bylaw based on current case numbers.  The next scheduled Council meeting is not until September 14; however, a Special Council Meeting could be called before that time.
Consultation/Engagement
Leading up to the Council discussions on August 4, 2020 the City undertook two different engagement exercises.  City administration requested feedback from the Greater Regional Parkland Chamber regarding their membership views on the use of mandatory face coverings.  At the time, the Chamber was neutral in their perspective as they represent a business constituency base beyond the City itself.
 
Commencing the afternoon of July 31 to noon on August 4, 2020, the City encouraged citizens to respond to a short survey that asked whether they wore face coverings when they were out in public currently and whether they support or do not support the use of mandatory face coverings in doors and why.  Feedback from the survey was provided to Council during the August 4, 2020 Special Council Meeting.  
Implementation/Communication
If approved, the City would include and promote the bylaw to the community and businesses as part of the enhanced education campaign.  This would include examples of signage, wording, and steps that businesses could use if/when the bylaw becomes active or even beforehand.  

If/when the bylaw becomes active and subsequently inactive based on the parameters of the bylaw, extensive communication and awareness would be provided.
Impacts
As various businesses and municipalities have commenced to put in place requirements regarding face coverings across Canada, there has been a wide range of responses.  Some individuals have protested the requirements, citing a violation of their charter rights or other health implications.  At this time, there is no evidence that would suggest either of these complaints are based on fact, however the body of science regarding the transmittance of the virus continues to grow and public opinion on this issue will continue to unfold.
Attachments
Proposed Bylaw C-1128-20 Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw

City Council and Committee of the Whole agendas and minutes are posted on the City of Spruce Grove website for information purposes only. These agendas may be changed at the discretion of Council by the addition or deletion of items. Anyone reviewing the draft agenda should do so on the understanding that it is subject to change by Council.

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Audio from the most recent City Council and Committee of the Whole meetings are available via podcast on the City of Spruce Grove website.



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