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Smoking ban in parks up for consideration

Council agrees to look into regulation, enforcement
By Mike Youds
July 29, 2015 12:14 A.M.
Nonsmoker urges City to restrict smoking in parks.

Fed up with secondhand smoke in Riverside Park, Bob Wren has challenged the City to ban smoking in parks as other communities have done.

Wren went before council on July 28 to present his case.

“I’m here out of desperation more than anything else,” Wren said.

While enjoying public events in the park, he has been unable to avoid cigarette smoke and doesn’t like to be the one to politely request that people butt out. Beyond that, he doesn’t have the right to do so.

“It doesn’t go well. It’s a very sticky situation. That’s why we need a bylaw to govern this. Expecting residents to deal with this just isn’t working.”

Thirty other B.C. communities have implemented bylaws banning smoking in municipal parks, he said.

Jeff Conners, tobacco reduction co-ordinator with Interior Health, said communities have taken different approaches to the problem.

“The best approach is really to go smoke-free,” he said in favour of Wren’s request.

Coun. Arjun Singh proposed a motion to ban smoking in public parks as of Jan. 1, 2016. The motion was immediately questioned by Coun. Pat Wallace.

“I think we need further discussion with this running to bylaw and getting lots of hate emails from people who think we’re stupid,” Wallace said. “I’m not saying it’s not a good bylaw, but we’ve got toothless bylaws now.”

Emphasis should be on harm reduction and changing behaviour, said Coun. Marg Spina.

Council agreed to table the motion until November. In the meantime, staff will look into the experiences of other municipalities in trying to restrict smoking in parks.

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