Calgary to consider state of local emergency following provincial restrictions

The City of Calgary is considering declaring a state of local emergency (SOLE) to help handle the city’s second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. But that will depend on what restrictions the Alberta government announces Tuesday afternoon.

Read more: New COVID-19 restrictions expected to be announced in Alberta Tuesday afternoon

“If the province announces something where we could write supplemental orders like we did in the spring to supplement what they were doing, then it makes a ton of sense to enact another state of emergency,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Tuesday at around noon. “And, quite frankly, if the province doesn’t go far enough, then we need to think if we can do more with a state of emergency.”

Read more: COVID-19: Town of Drumheller declares state of local emergency, makes masks mandatory

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The last SOLE was declared on March 15 and was ended on June 12. City-owned and partner-operated facilities were closed and capacity restrictions were imposed in certain facilities, limiting them to less than 250 people or 50 per cent.

The decisions on restrictions implemented during a public health emergency is limited to the province’s health authorities, not the city.

Read more: Calgary declares local state of emergency due to COVID-19, prompting libraries, rec centres to close

That means the mayor and city can’t shut down the entire city during this pandemic.

“Even if I were to test the limits of my authority, the province has the power to rescind anything I do,” Nenshi said. “And nobody needs a jurisdictional battle right now.

“What people need is for everyone to work together.”

Nenshi said declaring a SOLE requires the mayor and one other member of council — usually the chair of the city’s emergency management committee, currently Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra — to make the decision based on advice from city officials, including members of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency.

Click to play video 'CEMA chief Tom Sampson pushes for more provincial COVID-19 restrictions' CEMA chief Tom Sampson pushes for more provincial COVID-19 restrictions

CEMA chief Tom Sampson pushes for more provincial COVID-19 restrictions – Nov 16, 2020

Part of those discussions were going on in the background as city council was also debating the upcoming year’s budget.

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Nenshi was planning on having an in-camera briefing with council and CEMA chief Tom Sampson following the province’s announcement and before their dinner break.

The mayor said despite calls for a second SOLE in a year from the public, the city had to wait for the province’s lead.

“When we got a pretty clear indication yesterday that the province would be taking action today, it’s not that we put our tools down. It’s that we said, ‘Let’s wait to see what they do and we’ll supplement as needed.’”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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