West Lincoln’s Bylsma says he will vote against extending Niagara region mandatory mask bylaw

Niagara Region Council meeting Niagara Region Council will meet Thursday to vote on mask bylaw extension
Updated: Wednesday 16 Sept. at 10:55 a.m.

West Lincoln Mayor Dave Bylsma said he will oppose extending the mandatory mask bylaw enacted by Niagara Regional Council when council meets Thursday to extend it into next spring.

“I will continue to vote against.  Broad picture, we crushed the curve without it.  When the bylaw came it failed to effect any change and it’s failing to stop a second wave,” he told Niagara Info Wednesday, ahead of the vote scheduled for Thursday night.

If passed by council, the Thursday vote will extend the bylaw until the end of April 2021.

The bylaw was first passed on Jul. 23. It requires Niagara Region residents to wear mandatory face coverings in enclosed public places, and on Regional and municipal transit during the COVID-19 pandemic until the end of this October when it would initially expire without the proposed extension.

“The extension that council is considering on Thursday is more of a process and procedural driven matter than a full re-opening of the debate,” said Daryl Barnhart, the Regional Chair’s Executive Officer. “It’s important to note that Thursday’s decision is focused on the extension, and was never motivated by a repeal.”

Bylsma added: “There are two possible conclusions: Mandatory mask-wearing is completely ineffective or worse it’s contributing to an increase because of (a) false sense of security, improper use, or laxity in protocols like hand hygiene and SD (social distancing). Weigh in the social anxiety and loss of culture, it’s clearly a continued opposition.”

Dave Bylsma, West Lincoln Mayor
Dave Bylsma, West Lincoln Mayor, voted against the Niagara Region
mandatory mask bylaw and said he will vote against an extension

Bylsma and Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Coun. Gary Zalepa were the two regional representatives that voted against the mask bylaw in July. Zalepa abstained during the vote, but was told his vote would be counted as a “no” against the bylaw.

Zalepa told Niagara Info Tuesday that he will support the bylaw extension. “I’m not pleased with the April 2021 date and will be open to an amendment for that. I will continue to follow the advice of our local medical officer of health,” he said.