The City of Calgary will let the current state of local emergency expire on Thursday because the powers it grants are no longer necessary, according to the city.
“There is still pressure on the health-care system, but it has eased,” said Sue Henry, chief of Calgary’s emergency management agency.
“We’ve got a very good vaccination rate and our mobile vaccination clinics are up and running in the community. So we don’t need any specific powers that are provided to us under the state of local emergency at this time.”
The current state of emergency has been in place since Sept. 3, marking the third time the city has enacted it during the pandemic. The declaration allows the city to write local orders to clarify or deal with local challenges and quickly secure supplies needed to run essential services.
The declaration expires 90 days after it is signed, Henry explained. With most communities in Calgary reporting vaccination rates above 80 per cent, the emergency management agency did not see a valid reason for extending it. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be brought back quickly.
“One of the things that’s the most important with the state of local emergency is it is very simple for us to put back into place if we have a circumstance that’s changed, or need any of those powers to return,” she said. “It’s a very, very fast process. And we can do that at any time, day or night.”
However, the city’s municipal emergency plan will remain active when the declaration lapses on Thursday. This means the vaccine passport and face covering bylaws will remain in place.
“The virus is still here, we’re seeing talk of new variants on the horizon. And we still need to remain incredibly diligent and all do our part to help with that.”
The city’s decision to let the state of emergency lapse comes as Alberta reported its first case of the Omicron variant on Tuesday. The individual tested positive while asymptomatic and has not left quarantine since they returned from international travel about a week ago, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.
Mayor Jyoti Gondek said news of Alberta’s first confirmed case “further emphasizes the need for each of us to get vaccinated.”
“Vaccines continue to provide high levels of protection against severe symptoms and they are the only sure way out of this pandemic,” Gondek said in an emailed statement. “The science is clear with evidence indicating masks, physical distancing, and washing our hands as key measures to suppress transmission and save lives.”
Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong called on the mayor to call an emergency meeting ahead of the one scheduled this week in response to the province’s first Omicron case.
“It makes no sense to end #YYC State of Local Emergency on Thurs. We must have a special #yyccc meeting to reconsider that order. Lives are at stake. Im asking Mayor @JyotiGondek to reconvene #Council,” Wong wrote on Twitter.
The city’s emergency management committee is scheduled to meet on Friday at 9:30 a.m.