November 25, 2015 - 10:38 AM
KAMLOOPS - Smokers enjoying a break in Riverside Park or outside City Hall will soon be required to butt out, though the mayor doesn't believe the new regulation will actually be enforceable.
A smoking ban in parks was originally discussed by councillors in July but was tabled to give staff time to look into it. Council wanted more information specifically about enforcement and the success rate of similar bans in other communities and yesterday, Nov. 25, council had the information they needed to move forward with a bylaw amendment to prohibit smoking and vaping with e-cigarettes in all parks and civic properties.
“I have trouble with this one,” Mayor Peter Milobar said, adding, much like the city’s pesticide debate, this was an unenforceable bylaw.
Milobar asked what the point of the bylaw was if it could be just as easily imposed with signage. He said it is unlikely bylaw officers will be dispatched to every smoking call and wonders what sort of message it will send to residents.
“Thanks for phoning; we’re not coming,” Milobar quipped.
Bylaw does regular sweeps of city parks and will respond to a smoker much like how they do to someone drinking in a park, according to community enforcement manager Jon Wilson. If the officer has the time they will speak to an offender and if a person refuses to butt out, there will be an ‘enforcement response.’
Coun. Ken Christian remembers lobbying 25 years ago for 40 per cent of restaurants to be non-smoking and then 10 years later approaching council to ban smoking in public buildings, and told council members he couldn’t help feeling nostalgic.
Christian said in both instances, there was the concern the public would not follow the new rules and it would be impossible to impose. However, this didn’t happen and Christian said he’s confident it won’t happen. He believes by placing bans, it ‘de-normalized’ smoking making it almost self-policing.
Staff needs time to amend the bylaw and parks and recreation director Byron McCorkell says once the new wording is written, it must then be approved by council. McCorkell believes April 2016 is a realistic timeline for when the bylaw could be implemented.
Only Milobar and Coun. Pat Wallace voted against the decision.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015