Most Edmonton region municipalities opt-in to proof-of-vaccination program

· The Pulse
By Nathan Fung
in the Regional Roundup
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All but three municipalities that are part of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board have opted-in to the province's Restrictions Exemption Program (REP), which came into effect Sept. 20.

Proof-of-vaccination, a medical exemption, or a negative COVID-19 test will be required to access most city-operated facilities for people aged 12 and over, with some exceptions for residents under 18 participating in youth activities. Municipalities that have implemented the measures include Edmonton, Beaumont, Devon, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, Morinville, Spruce Grove, St. Albert, Stony Plain, and Strathcona County.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson told Taproot that while the REP is "clunky," he welcomes consistent measures across the region.

"The unity overall was that stronger measures were required," he said.

In addition to opting into the REP, the City of Edmonton is implementing a policy that all city employees must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15, or comply with ongoing COVID-19 rapid antigen testing up to twice per week at their own cost.

Leduc County, Parkland County, and Sturgeon County are not opting into the REP. A spokesperson for Leduc County told Taproot that it does not operate any recreational facilities, but instead provides funding through cost-share partnerships with regional partners. As the facilities are operated by Leduc and Beaumont, Leduc County residents will still need to show proof of vaccination before accessing them. Similarly, Sturgeon County is not participating because it doesn't directly operate any public recreation facilities that the exemptions would apply to.

Meanwhile, Parkland County has opted to run its facilities at one-third capacity.

Proof-of-vaccination in Alberta. The optional proof-of-vaccination program in Alberta began Sept. 20. (Nathan Fung)

Before the province's Sept. 15 announcement, Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank tried to introduce a municipal vaccine passport. However, that was defeated in council just hours before the province announced the REP.

A group of the regional mayors sent a letter to Health Minister Tyler Shandro on Sept. 7 asking for the province to implement a vaccine passport system. But several mayors took issue with the letter, saying that public health matters fall under provincial jurisdiction.

"It's really not our lane," Leduc County Mayor Tanni Doblanko told Taproot last week.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said Sturgeon County was participating in the province's Restrictions Exemption Program, but it is not.