Calgary

Nenshi says if Alberta doesn't take more action on COVID-19, Calgary will look at new measures

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he expects to see new restrictions introduced soon to prevent the spread of COVID-19 since Alberta's cabinet committee is meeting Monday.

Alberta's active COVID-19 cases are nearing 20,000

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi gave an update on Tuesday regarding the city's supports for businesses and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he expects to see new restrictions introduced soon to prevent the spread of COVID-19 since Alberta's Priorities Implementation Cabinet Committee is meeting Monday.

But if Premier Jason Kenney's government doesn't take action on that front, the mayor says he'll call a special meeting of city council himself to discuss new measures for Calgary this week.

"We are way beyond the time where we even have 24 hours to spare. Decisions have to be made today, they have to be made tomorrow, and we have to work way harder on flattening this curve," Nenshi told media on Monday. 

"No one has time for a jurisdictional battle. The good news is I think the province and the city are aligned on what needs to happen. If we are not, then my No. 1 duty as mayor is to protect the health of citizens of Calgary."

Nenshi listed four actions city council could potentially take:

  • Use powers under the Emergency Management Act granted by the city's state of local emergency. However, the mayor said these powers tend to be limited and may not be sufficient to restrict spread of COVID-19.
  • Request a public health order from the province that could authorize the city to take action. 
  • Request a charter regulation from the province to authorize the city to take action.
  • Enact a bylaw under the Municipal Government Act to protect the health and welfare of citizens, something the mayor said council could do unilaterally without the province's assistance.

Alberta's COVID-19 cases have been growing steadily, with new records for total active cases and total new cases being set almost every day.

Alberta hit another grim milestone on Monday with 20,067 active cases of COVID-19, and 16 more deaths reported, including four on the same day in the same Edmonton care centre. The province is rushing to add contact tracing capacity, as currently the majority of transmissions come from an unknown source.

"I've been frustrated and I've been pushing very hard that we can't operate on AHS time or on government time with getting this thing wrapped back up," Nenshi said. 

Nenshi also criticized anti-mask protesters who gathered en masse in downtown Calgary on the weekend. 

After hearing some protesters went into shops on Saturday to intimidate store owners and shoppers, Nenshi said that while the protesters have the right to express their opinions, they don't have the right to put others at risk.

"You have every right to be an idiot. What you don't have the right to do is you don't have the right to harass shopkeepers, you don't have the right to scare people away from downtown and from those stores at their busiest time of year, and you don't have the right to expose your children to this," the mayor said.

"This is flagrant behaviour that puts other people at risk … we have far better things we should be doing with our time than dealing with these people."

Council voted Monday to ask administration to come back with options for increasing the fine for people who violate the city's mask bylaw. The fine is currently $50. 

With files from Scott Dippel.

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