KELOWNA - Flying drones, e-cigarettes and geocaches are all soon to be targetted in Kelowna’s updated parks bylaw.
“Things change, new issues emerge,” says parks supervisor Ian Wilson, who will present the proposed changes to city council on Monday, March 23.
E-cigarettes will be banned in all public parks under the revamped bylaw. Wilson says the city is following the lead of the province, which is moving to put e-cigarettes in the same category as the real thing, banning their use for people under 19 and restricting them in the workplace and indoor public spaces.
“We know the legislation is coming so we thought the timing was good,” Wilson says.
Bus stops and transit exchanges will also be added as public places where the city can prohibit e-cigarette smoking.
The city is also strengthening the bylaw around the use of drones, which will require a permit. While drones are already regulated under Transport Canada, Wilson says they are seeing more of them and want to get ahead of their increasing use at special events and other occasions.
“It’s still a relatively new thing. If someone wants to film a tourism video, that’s a good application, but we want to know who it is and whether it’s being done in a controlled manner,” he says. “If we get complaints, we know who to talk to.”
Wilson says a recent incident saw a young man lose an expensive drone up a tree in a local park.
“We ended up sending out one of our trucks but we couldn’t get it down and had to tell him he was on his own,” he says. “He was pretty upset."
A map of geocache locations in Kelowna and West Kelowna.
Image Credit: geocaching.com
Geocachers will also find new language governing their hobby. While not as recent a phenomena, geocaching has exploded in popularity in recent years, causing some excitement in local parks.
“We had an incident where someone found a geocache and thought it was a bomb,” Wilson says. “Someone else called police because they thought there were drugs inside it.”
Wilson says they consulted with geocachers themselves before writing up the bylaw addition and incorporated their code of conduct into the language.
“There are almost 1,000 geocaches in Kelowna. We were surprised by its popularity,” he says. “We just want them to be careful about environmental damage or putting them in dangerous places. It is a popular activity and we want people to use the parks.”
Dog owners will gain in the bylaw revamp, with on-leash access extended to 13 addtional public spaces and parks, including Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery.
“We never allowed it before but we know people like to walk their dogs,” he says.
Wilson says his department tries to update the parks bylaw every two years to keep up with changes, additions and trends.
“We keep a diary of requests we get from the public and bylaw,” he says. “When we get a chance, we will try to update it."
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