COUNCIL OKS POLICY THAT WOULD OUTLAW SMOKING IN TOWN PARKS, BEACHES
OSOYOOS TIMES-April 20, 2011
By Karissa Gall – Osoyoos Times
After expressing concerns over bringing forward legislation that regulates human behaviour, Osoyoos council unanimously approved an amendment to a proposed Parks and Community Facilities Bylaw at their regular meeting of April 18, adding a no-smoking regulation for Town parks, playgrounds and trails to the proposed bylaw.
The Town’s director of financial services, Jim Zakall, presented the no-smoking regulation to council following a directive council gave to staff to review the possibility of making all parks non-smoking areas when they gave the Parks and Community Facilities Bylaw first reading at council’s March 21 meeting.
Zakall told council that Town staff reviewed cases from other communities where the public has been consulted or surveyed and it was found that a majority were in favour of a ban.
In the case of the City of Kelowna, which implemented a similar regulation bylaw in late 2010 and is just beginning enforcement, a public survey showed 75 per cent of those surveyed supported regulations that would prohibit smoking at parks and playgrounds, a statistic that is on par with the provincial average of 75 per cent.
Zakall said that although “it does appear that a smoking ban would likely be favoured by a majority of Town residents and visitors and would warrant including this in the new Parks and Community Facilities Bylaw,” enforcement could be an issue, especially during special events such as a licensed beer garden at Gyro Beach on July 1.
He advised Council to include the no-smoking regulation in the Parks and Community Facilities Bylaw, but added that when licensed beer gardens are available for Town-sanctioned events, that the event planner should be given the option to provide a designated smoking area, to be approved by the Town, and that enforcement for 2011 be educational first with municipal ticketing to begin in 2012, an option ultimately approved by council following discussion.
Coun. Michael Ryan was the first to express his concerns over the no-smoking regulation during discussion, saying he’s “been very conflicted over this.”
“I appreciate that if we want a healthy community, we shouldn’t have unhealthy practices and one of them is smoking,” said Ryan. “I’m aware also that Vancouver and Kelowna have both outlawed this in their parks and trails and you know on our trails, people shouldn’t be smoking on the trails because you’re out in nature and you’ve got a lot of flammable material around.
“But I know that when the provincial law was passed, it was very clear about enclosed spaces… but when you’re out in the park it’s not an enclosed space. I’m just not sure. I think it’s a good thing for people to have healthy habits, but on the other hand I just have a feeling there’s almost a kind of oppressiveness about this.”
Mayor Stu Wells expressed appreciation for Ryan’s concerns, but added that the mess that cigarette butts leave on the beach warrants the regulation.
“I think the one turning point is what they do with their butts,” said Wells. “It’s the litter and garbage component that’s probably going to drive me to support this motion, just because of the mess that’s left behind.”
Coun. CJ Rhodes echoed Wells’ sentiment, saying that although he was “conflicted as well,” the number of cigarette butts that workers must manually remove from the Pioneer Walkway each week makes the regulation a worthwhile endeavour.
The Parks and Community Facilities Bylaw, with the inclusion of the newly approved no-smoking regulation as well as an additional amendment put forward by Ryan to reduce the number of people who require written consent from the Town for the use of Town park space from 50 to 25, will go before council for possible second and third readings at their regular meeting on May 2.