Enforcement will be a major concern: Sweet
Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet is opposed to the recommendations of a provincial panel calling for an increase in the gas tax to fund mostly transit infrastructure in Toronto and Hamilton.
The town’s sweeping anti-smoking bylaw still needs some work before it can come before council for final passage, says Mayor Bob Sweet.
The municipal ordinance that would ban smoking on town-owned property is stalled at the committee level right now until staff can address issues surrounding enforcement, fines and distances between designated smoking areas.
Jan. 1 was set as the date the bylaw was to go into effect. However, the mayor says they will have to tackle the matter in the new year.
“This is a fairly onerous and if it’s going to have any success then it has to have a strong enforcement component,” he said.
The prohibition will cover Petawawa Point, the Civic Centre complex, including the public library, arena and Kin Hut, town hall, both fire stations and Norman Behnke Hall. For those who wish to light up, smoking areas will be identified at the Civic Centre, Centennial Park and Petawawa Point Beach.
The measures are not going down well with one town resident, who spoke out against the bylaw at this past Monday’s regular council meeting.
Bob King told councillors that such a bylaw would adversely harm local businesses just as provincial and federal laws have.
“This wrong, this is totally wrong,” said King. “Get rid of it. Do not pass this.”
He pointed to an online and paper survey of town residents conducted earlier this year. The survey revealed that 63 per cent of respondents would support a policy that restricts smoking on municipal property, while 37 per cent would not support such a bylaw. Almost 75 per cent of respondents felt that if a policy were in place, enforcement would be important. However, King insisted the responses were not a representative sample, stating the survey recorded the views of only 2.48 per cent of the town’s population.
“You cannot make a decision on 2.48 per cent of the population,” said King, who called for council to bring to the floor immediately a motion to kill the bylaw.
Later, the mayor said that smoking is something that residents don’t want to be exposed to when they are attending a recreation venue. He noted that the promotion of healthy recreational lifestyles was outlined in the town’s recently adopted recreation master plan.
“It’s always a difficult balance to accommodate those who smoke,” he said. “It is still a legal activity.”
Smokers will be able to use a designated smoking area on town property that must be 30 metres from doorways, vents, operable windows, ventilation ducts and entryways to community centres, municipal offices and other town-owned buildings. The 30-metre stand-off also includes playgrounds, tennis courts, swimming pools, splash pads, beaches and all sports fields, outdoor bleachers and recognized viewing areas.
“All we’re trying to do is create a healthy lifestyle and healthy recreational opportunities here in town,” remarked Sweet. “There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done before we are at the stage of passing the bylaw”
Enforcement remains an outstanding issue. The town has only one bylaw enforcement officer at the moment, however, council has learned that the Ontario Provincial Police may be willing to enforce municipal bylaws.
Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist