EDMONTON -- St. Albert City Council has passed a bylaw requiring masks or face coverings inside public places as of Saturday, Aug. 8.

After a nearly five hour debate, the bylaw passed by a vote of 6-1, making St. Albert the third city in Alberta to require face coverings in public buildings.

"Mandatory masks are better than mandatory shut-downs," said Mayor Cathy Heron.

Most councillors believe it's a step in the right direction, and will create a safer community.

"It is an unknown, unprecedented virus. And I believe this is a small step to help protect our citizens and each other, and care for one another," said Coun. Jacquie Hansen.

"I don’t think that our request of our community to work together to stop the spread of this is an unreasonable request," said Coun. Wes Brodhead.

Coun. Sheena Hughes says there's still too many questions surrounding the effectiveness of mask wearing.

"The numbers of deaths are the lowest it’s ever been since March, and yet the number of extra measures that governments are taking is now at an all time high," said Hughes.

Coun. Hughes was the only vote against the bylaw, pointing out the province has only recommended masks, not made them mandatory.

"We either have freedoms or we don't, and with this bylaw, for the most part we don't," said Hughes.

"I don't think it's Communism, and I don't think it's anything but trying to protect people," said Coun. Ray Watkins.

The City of Edmonton and City of Calgary have both passed similar bylaws. Fort Saskatchewan voted in favour of a mask bylaw Tuesday afternoon, however it will only come into effect when the number of active COVID-19 cases within that city is reported by Alberta Health Services (AHS) to be 10 or more.

The City of Leduc, Spruce Grove and Strathcona County require coverings on transit, but other councils in the region have not publicly made a move to do the same.

Spruce Grove has also directed administration to draft a bylaw that would mandate face coverings if local COVID-19 case numbers were to spike. The rule will be voted on Aug. 17. 

In St. Albert, enforcement will follow an "education first" policy like Edmonton, but violation of the mask bylaw will result in a $100-ticket.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson