City council today got their first chance to comment on the details of proposed new municipal smoking ban rules for Revelstoke.
Council unanimously adopted the first and second reading of the new bylaw at their Aug. 23 regular meeting, opening up a public comment period as the bylaw moves towards final adoption. The proposed new ban was first recommended to council in September of 2010 by the city’s health advisory committee. Since then, city staff worked to develop the proposed bylaw that was presented today.
The city already has policies that prohibit smoking in places like city buildings and vehicles. In addition, provincial laws prohibit smoking in all public buildings, near doorways and building air intakes, amongst other places. The new Revelstoke bylaw will extend the smoking ban to include:
– all City of Revelstoke property
– parks on city property
– outdoor recreational facilities on city property including sports fields, grandstands, seating areas, bleachers and similar structures
– trails and paths on city property, including pathways maintained by the city
– on streets and sidewalks when there is a parade or street closure ongoing
The new bylaw will not ban smoking on city streets and sidewalks, including sidewalk patios on public streets.
If you are caught smoking in a prohibited area, bylaw officers will be authorized to hand you a fine of “up to $200” on the spot.
Council did not discuss the ban extensively, instead asking detail questions and commenting that the bylaw would now be open to public comment.
Coun. Antoinette Halberstadt expressed her view that the ban may go too far. She was concerned that those with mental health issues would be marginalized by the ban. “What about inclusiveness versus marginalizing and excluding die-hard smokers? That would include certain seniors and … other people with psychiatric illnesses including schizophrenia and anxiety/depression disorders who are very dependent on tobacco,” she said.
She was also concerned that removing ashtrays would result in a bigger mess on city sidewalks. She proposed designated smoking areas with ashtrays that would be located 7–10 metres away from gathering areas. Halberstadt also criticized the bylaw for lacking information on the progress of similar bans in B.C., like one in Vancouver, saying it was her understanding that information was to be included.
Coun. Chris Johnston described the bylaw as a “rough cut” or a “first go at it.” He said he shared some of Halbderstadt’s concerns. “I think we start somewhere,” he said, adding they could now seek public and stakeholder input.
Do you agree with the proposed ban? Think it goes too far? Or do you think it should be extended to include all city streets and sidewalks, or more? City hall is now accepting comment on the bylaw, although the comment process and timeline was not explicitly stated at the council meeting, in the bylaw or supporting documents.