Stay masked, despite council’s decision

·2 min read

When the province decides to lift Ontario’s current mask mandate, Chatham-Kent will be ready.

In a 13 to 5 vote, Chatham-Kent council opted to remove the municipality’s mask mandate bylaw at a recent meeting.

The nod came following a motion put forward by West Kent Coun. Mark Authier.

The purpose of the motion, said Authier, was not to cause confusion, but to make sure the municipality is prepared once the Ministry of Health legislation is removed.

“I’m just bringing this in so that when the provincial government does remove the mandate for masks we’re able to not have to wait to remove it ourselves,” Authier told council.

He said he didn’t want residents to be confused, or to think Chatham-Kent residents could stop wearing masks, as the provincial mandate supersedes the municipal bylaw.

Wallaceburg Coun. Aaron Hall said the original wording of the motion had caused confusion in the community as many believed Chatham-Kent was removing the mask bylaw entirely.

In response to a question from Hall as to whether altering the bylaw made sense, Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby, said the current bylaw is redundant with regard to provincial masking legislation.

“I’m not sure there is any significant effect of removing this from a practical point of view as long as the public does not misunderstand what the intention of removing it is,” Colby said.

“I’m able to enforce a rule for masking for any reason in Chatham-Kent, should that become necessary,” Colby explained, through his powers as medical officer of health.”

Wallaceburg Coun. Carmen McGregor said she had received calls from constituents who were confused by the motion, adding she did not see the need for it at this time.

Chatham Coun. Michael Bondy said he was in support of the motion, explaining it puts an end date on the masking rule.

“It’s a good way to put an expiry date on our bylaw and get it off the books when necessary,” Bondy concluded.

Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice

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