CALGARY — Calgary city council took the first step toward increasing the fine for not wearing a face covering while indoors on city property from $100 to $500 on Monday, passing first and second readings of the bylaw change.
The necessary third reading could be brought forward as early as Monday night — following the conclusion of the regular council meeting.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi says if he doesn’t bring third reading forward on Monday evening, it would be done May 31, or possibly earlier.
Couns. Diane Colley-Urquhart, Sean Chu, Joe Magliocca and Jeromy Farkas voted against the increase.
Nenshi says he believes the move will have an impact on compliance.
“Remember, violations under the provincial health act can be as much as $100,000,” he said.
“So as much as you say you don’t care, sometimes you start caring.”
The mayor welcomed help from the province last week, including a court injunction that allows police to arrest flagrant violators.
“Yes, it is too late, but it is not at all too little,” said Nenshi.
“You saw some actions this weekend, with pretty serious enforcement and that’s precisely what we need to do with people who are flagrantly putting people’s health at risk.”
Colley-Urquhartm who voted against the move, called it a token gesture.
“It was more cosmetic, to make it look like city council was doing something when we really don’t need to do that,” she said.
Police Chief Mark Neufeld told an emergency management committee meeting last week he would support the move to a $500 fine.
Calgary Police Service released a statement saying the fine increase will encourage increased compliance with the bylaw.
“We have always said that enforcement is intended to deter those who are blatantly flouting the local and provincial health orders,” read the statement.
“We are hopeful the adjustment will encourage more people to comply with the bylaw and provincial health orders by wearing masks and in turn, help our community flatten the COVID-19 curve.”
The fine remains at $100 until third reading is passed.
Face masks must be worn while indoors on city property and on Calgary Transit.
The face covering bylaw is in effect until December, but can be repealed before then. More than 380 tickets have been issued to those in contradiction to the bylaw since it was enacted last August.
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