With masks, vaccines and COVID case counts front of mind in Calgary, a group of council candidates joined mayoral hopeful Jan Damery to call for more action from city leaders, implementation of a vaccine passport and a return to mandatory masks.
Damery said the moves would help protect Calgarians and ease anxiety as children go back to school.
"This is also about keeping our economy open, ensuring that our small businesses can stay open … and that we actually create certainty," she said.
"What we have seen is a lack of action by current city council — especially the three councillors running to be mayor. We have also seen lack of action by the province, and this is creating huge uncertainty for our citizens and lots of fear."
Masks and vaccines have spilled into the municipal election campaign ahead of the vote on Oct. 18.
Alberta is leading the country in new daily COVID cases and in active cases, although the Northwest Territories has more active cases per 100,000 people.
Hospitalizations are also on the rise, with the vast majority of patients unvaccinated. Alberta has the second lowest rate of fully vaccinate people in Canada, after Nunavut.
Mask mandates, proof of vaccines
Private organizations, including the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, which owns the Flames and Stampeders, have brought in vaccine requirements, and the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School Board will require masks for staff and students when school restarts this week.
"I have been advocating vaccine passports for over a month, and we have a number of players including the Calgary Chamber of Commerce coming on board," said Damery.
"Talking with many business owners, the inconsistency is challenging for business right now. Let's have the City of Calgary take action, put a consistent policy in place."
Damery was flanked by council candidates from various wards who supported the call for more action — Courtney Walcott in Ward 8, Erin Waite and Marilyn North Peigan in Ward 7, Lori Massé in Ward 9 and Kourtney Branagan in Ward 11.
Not all candidates share the view of the group gathered out front of City Hall on Monday.
Mayoral candidate Zane Novak responded to the news conference with a release criticizing the push for more mandates and the recent moves by the two school boards and CSEC.
"This sets a terrible precedent with tax dollars being used to build a public arena. Yet some of the public is not being allowed to use it due to their personal choices," Novak said in a release.
"We as Calgarians need to be realistic."
Damery and Novak are two of the 26 candidates vying for mayor. The full list of registered mayoral candidates can be found at Elections Calgary.
The full list of council candidates for each ward can also be found there.