Vaccination opponents blocked from complaining to the wrong government

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An effort to politicize public health measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic was stopped in its tracks at city hall.

Thirty people contacted city hall seeking delegation status to speak to council’s Strategic Priorities and Policy (SP&P) committee meeting at city hall on Tuesday— but their requests were denied.

On August 26, Courtney Roddis sent a letter seeking delegation status to speak about mandating vaccine passports and masks, “I will talk about the harm this is causing on our people’s physical, mental and financial health.”

Subsequently, 29 written requests appeared on the updated agenda expressing similar desire to speak.

But several councillors pointed out that proof of vaccination requirements and mask mandates are provincial policies, outside the jurisdiction of municipal politicians.

“We don’t have a decision to make,” explained Councillor Jesse Helmer. “We aren’t working on a by-law where we need to get input from the public, and I just don’t think it’s appropriate to do it at this particular meeting.”

Councillor Shawn Lewis added that city council held a public participation meeting last year prior to implementing a mask by-law.

The by-law was repealed when it was superseded by a provincial mask order.

In addition, city hall’s new vaccination policy for municipal employees is the responsibility of the City Manager— not politicians.

The SP&P Committee voted 13 to 1, Councillor Van holst opposed, not to hear delegations about provincial health policies and vaccination requirements at the meeting.

“There was nothing on our agenda tonight related to what folks wanted to come and talk to us about, explained Councillor Lewis. “It is well and good for the public to express their opinions, but they have to do it to the right level of government.”