Jasper Municipal Council discussed ending mandatory face coverings in outdoor spaces and within public buildings during a committee of the whole meeting on June 8.
This repeal would be in alignment with phase three of the provincial government’s Open for Summer plan, which will occur two weeks after 70 per cent of Albertans age 12-plus have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Face masks or face coverings have been required on downtown sidewalks and in all public indoor spaces since August 2020.
During the meeting, Mayor Richard Ireland made a motion to direct administration to present a bylaw for first second and potentially third reading to deal with the proposal of the repeal of the temporary compulsory face covering bylaw that was amended in the fall, so that council could have a bylaw to debate next week.
With all in favour, the motion was carried and will be brought forth at next week’s regular public meeting.
JNP Management Plan
Parks Canada has formally launched the second phase of public engagement on the Jasper National Park Draft Management Plan and has invited council of the Municipality of Jasper to provide input on the proposed plan.
The results of the second engagement phase will help finalize the plan, after which it will be approved and tabled in Parliament and used to guide the overall direction of park management for the next 10 years.
While the whole Jasper Management Plan is important, much of its contents are focused on Parks matters outside of the Jasper townsite. This being the case, administration has focused on the “Community of Jasper” as the most relevant.
Administration presented the council members with an attachment that recommended some changes that would reflect council’s strategic priorities.
The proposed changes include Parks Canada and the Municipality of Jasper working toward transitioning land-use planning and development authorities in the townsite to the municipality by 2030 and the elimination of the requirement for the municipality to pay land rent by 2025.
Advice given by administration is that committee forward the recommended changes to Parks Canada as the municipalities formal input into the plan.
“I think we need to recognize that although the municipality of Jasper may suggest something, Parks may or may not accept it; that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ask for it,” said CAO Bill Given.
In particular, administration has increased the level of consultation with the municipality and collaboration and that the municipality should be a part of the decision making.
After some discussions between councillors and with some revisions to the proposed input, a motion was made that committee recommended council to formally approve the submission of input to parks Canada on the draft management plan for Jasper National Park as amended.
With all in favour, council will see this before them for further discussions on June 15.
COVID relief reserve
As a result of the financial support provided by provincial and federal funding, and 2020 year-end adjustments, council was able to allocate an additional amount of $396,712 to the COVID relief reserve, bringing the total reserve amount to $1,171,712.
Most local governments have provided relief through the property tax system by freezing or reducing taxes and deferring payment deadlines.
Beyond this broad-based relief, some local governments have chosen to leave other supports mostly to higher levels of government, while other municipalities are taking a more active role by using local financial resources to provide supports.
Council was asked to help prioritize and identify which items they wanted administration to further refine for use of the COVID recovery reserve.
Some concepts that were brought to council members included utility rate credits, grants, housing and tax mitigation.
“It’s not possible for administration to work on all of these concepts,” Given said.
“It’s challenging because there’s a whole bunch of things we could do. What is the most meaningful, what is the most impactful, what is the most possible and how much we should save for later?”
After extensive discussions, Coun. Rico Damota made a motion to defer recommendations to the next committee of the whole meeting on the use of the COVID relief reserve.
With two in favor and four opposed, Damota’s motion was defeated.
With nothing being completely ruled out, Mayor Ireland then made a motion that committee of the whole direct administration to further refine the following concepts and to return to the future committee of the whole meeting, with the concepts being
With no one opposed, the motion was carried, and the refined list will be brought forward for further discussions at the next meeting.
Ali Howat, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh