Council debates public smoking ban

Staff to shortlist parks and events where residents will have to butt out

Smokers will have to butt out in some public areas in Princeton, but council is still debating the extent of its proposed public smoking ban.

At a special meeting last Tuesday afternoon councilors reviewed a draft bylaw, and sent it back to staff with suggestions for changes and more information.

“I’d like to see us move forward on it,” said Mayor Frank Armitage. “Let’s get a basic bylaw in front of us, one that can grow with the community.”

Staff originally proposed restrictions that would make it illegal to smoke in parks, playgrounds, playing fields, splash parks, skate and bike parks or trails where a no-smoking notice has been posted. Additionally staff suggested there be no smoking within 10 meters of the doorway or window of a public facility or during an outdoor special event.

First offense fines were set at $25, with $125 for subsequent offenses.  Fines of $200 were proposed for smoking in town-owned vehicles, and for obstruction.

Armitage told the meeting he believes a public smoking ban needs “a transition period,” and staff was directed to compile a list of parks and events where no-smoking signs should be posted.

“It’s easier to grow non-smokers than to make them,” said town recreation manager Lyle Thomas. “Maybe any park that has playground equipment or where children congregate is where we should have our signage.”

Canada Day and Remembrance Day events at Veteran’s Square were identified by councilors as appropriate events to be identified under the bylaw.

Smoking currently is prohibited near entrances to the Princeton Museum, Riverside Centre and the municipal pool.

Armitage questioned the fairness of banning smoking at baseball parks, where adult teams hold regular games and tournaments. “It’s a social event,” he said. “I think it’s unreasonable to ask people to get up and leave the property and go to the highway to smoke.”

Councillor Rosemary Doughty said she believes an effective bylaw must respect both smokers and non-smokers. “I like the idea of being reasonable, of not being heavy handed.”

CAO Rick Zerr said the bylaw should be ready for council’s vote at the May 18th regular meeting.