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Point Edward narrowly approves mandatory mask bylaw

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Masks will be mandatory for anyone nine years and older in the Village of Point Edward starting Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Point Edward joins Sarnia, Petrolia and Lambton Shores among Lambton County municipalities with mask bylaws.

Village council held a special online meeting Thursday and voted 3-2 to require masks in indoor public places.

They made the controversial decision after Lambton County council voted in July against mandatory mask wearing, preferring to support and encourage it instead.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley has asked for a reconsideration of the mask issue at county council’s Sept. 2 meeting.

Dr. Sudit Ranade, Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health, has repeatedly said he is against making masks mandatory.

Point Edward Mayor Bev Hand did not support mandatory masks at county council but cast the deciding vote Thursday, saying she is in favour of a village bylaw.

Hand said the bylaw supports school children who must wear masks when they return to class in a few weeks.

She also noted Dr. Ranade said he prefers to leave the issue up to individual municipalities who know their communities best.

“Wearing a mask is one more act to mitigate what we may be facing in the fall,” said Hand. “They are talking about both the flu and COVID-19.”

Coun. Larry Gordon said he proposed the bylaw and requested the special council meeting to send the message Point Edward is not a “mask-free zone.”

“When you come here, please wear a mask,” Gordon said. “Point Edward is with the rest of Ontario, virtually.”

Tim Mondoux was the third member of Point Edward council in favour.

He said masks will help prevent a second wave of the novel coronavirus and help protect the community when the border reopens. The international border is closed until Sept. 21.

Coun. Greg Grimes and Coun. Paul Burgess voted against the bylaw, saying they preferred to let individuals make their own decisions.

Grimes said he surveyed the village’s 93 businesses and indoor open places and found 54% already require masks and another 38% recommend them.

“We don’t need to interfere with businesses,” Grimes said. “We are good neighbours.  We do what’s right without being told.”

Burgess said he’s concerned about enforcement and the possibility a bylaw will raise “a lot of animosity.”

Point Edward’s bylaw will be reviewed in November and can be repealed at any time.

Those who contravene the bylaw can be fined $1,000.  Exemptions apply to those playing sports, working out, eating and drinking at a restaurant or bar, or those who can’t put on or remove a mask without assistance.

However, Point Edward’s mask bylaw applies to federal buildings like the Blue Water Bridge Authority and health-related facilities.


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