By Trevor Busch
The Town of Taber is actively discouraging residents from holding garage sales during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
During town council’s April 27 meeting, Coun. Carly Firth raised the issue and recommended the municipality discourage the practice in 2020.
“There’s been some discussion about garage sales, and whether that would be something that would be permitted right now under this new COVID-19 reality. Well there hasn’t been an official position from Alberta Health Services or the province, I think as a municipality based on the recommendations about gatherings and social distancing, that the town should probably discourage residents from holding garage sales, at least in the current environment.”
Firth went on to describe how garage sales could potentially promote transmission of the virus, and that other options exist for buyers and sellers.
“Inviting people to your home to handle a bunch of the items that you want to sell doesn’t seem like a great idea to me, and there are certainly other avenues if people are interested in selling — they can do things online, and facilitate things that way with a reduced amount of contact.”
Coun. Garth Bekkering, on the other hand, felt the town should steer well clear of any direction to residents without the backing of a bylaw amendment.
“Alberta Health Services has not commented directly on the garage sales issue. For the Town of Taber to actively discourage people from having a garage sale…we certainly cannot forbid it because we’d need a bylaw in place. We would need a bylaw before we could even come close to enforcing it. So at this point in time I don’t think we should become involved as a council. But I certainly agree with Councillor Firth that we should discourage garage sales.”
Weighing in following an inquiry from Mayor Andrew Prokop, CAO Cory Armfelt detailed an email he had received from Alberta Emergency Management which had been circulated through Alberta Health Services regarding preventing garage sales.
“Many municipalities have taken that step of actually changing bylaws to do that. We are acting essentially on the direction from Alberta Emergency Management to have this discussion…we didn’t want to go forward with any sort of media campaign discouraging garage sales without having it discussed at the council table previous.”
Coun. Joe Strojwas seemed to be more in favour of a wait-and-see approach considering the province plans to slowly ease pandemic restrictions in coming weeks.
“Maybe this was something we should have addressed a month or so ago, but with provinces and different communities moving forward, and less restrictions, perhaps it’s a little late to start changing the bylaw at this point. I think we could go forth, and I think probably in the next short while we’ll see some restrictions lifted and a little more activity happening.”
Strojwas suggested a brief note in the town’s Cornhusk Chronicles rather than a formal direction by way of a motion, but Prokop disagreed.
“I think in all fairness what administration is asking for is some kind of direction as far as how to deal with this…we’ve pretty much been following everything else, so I don’t know that we could change our path.”
Following discussion, council voted unanimously to direct administration to issue a message to residents discouraging garage sales during the current COVID-19 pandemic.