The Town of Strathmore voted to defeat a suggestion from administration to introduce an incentive program which was designed to encourage residents to get COVID-19 vaccinated.
The proposal had suggested introducing a lottery, similar to the one introduced by the province, but on a much smaller scale.
A reward of $1,800 was proposed, as well as naming a local pond after the winner as a grand prize. The idea being to represent the community having persevered through the global pandemic.
Mayor Pat Fule said he saw the idea as a potential way to help encourage the public to trust the vaccine and promote safety.
“I guess the philosophy was different between the four councillors and the other three. The three of us who were defeated were looking at it as a way of helping to boost the numbers of people vaccinated so that we could be a part in helping Alberta get to that 70 per cent threshold,” he said.
“We were approaching it from the point of view [of] ‘what could we do to try to encourage more people to get vaccinated, to trust the vaccine, to be a part of making it safer for everyone?’”
Fule added he knew 11 personal friends who became afflicted with COVID-19 during the course of the pandemic.
On the opposite side of the vote, council held concerns whether naming a pond was too much and would be awkward to single out one name out of an entire population who have all suffered through COVID-19.
“It was a completely different philosophy and approach to what staff had done and so that’s why when it came down to the vote… it failed.
“The councillors who voted against the vaccination incentive program, they were looking at it from a point of view of what can be done to celebrate and honour all of the people who’ve been through COVID-19 in the past year and a half,” said Fule.
Before any other or similar steps are considered for potentially suggesting a sort of reward or incentive to get vaccinated, the town will wait until a report returns to council regarding the state of local COVID-19 supports currently in place.
Economic Development Coordinator Kristen Shima said Council has approved a recovery strategy in late spring, 2020, which continues to be monitored.
“This has provided a valuable framework that has developed into these initiatives. I’m grateful for the opportunity to hear feedback and guidance from Council on our next steps in the recovery,” she said.
“Our economic recovery initiatives are aimed at helping businesses to reach more customers over the next several months.”
According to Fule, the Town of Strathmore is slightly behind the provincial average of residents who have received their first dose of any COVID-19 vaccine, though he did not specify by how much.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times