Proposed smoking bylaw sparks debate
Town of Petawawa Municipal Building
The town’s anti-smoking bylaw moved closer to becoming law as council agreed this week on how it would enforce the sweeping municipal ordinance.
Staff submitted three options for enforcement and recommended council adopt fines between $25 and $300 per occurrence.
Chief administrative officer Mitch Stillman told council they can either hire a part-time or casual bylaw enforcement officer, contract the Ontario Provincial Police or add the smoking bylaw to the current bylaw enforcement officer’s duties.
The prohibition will cover Petawawa Point, the Civic Centre, town hall, both fire stations, Norman Behnke Hall and municipal parks and playgrounds. While Stillman explained the OPP option would be expensive and not very practical, he indicated the part-time officer would require specialized training and supervision. He also ruled out asking parks and recreation staff members to enforce the bylaw because it would be outside their field.
Councillors opted to hand the smoking file over to bylaw enforcement officer David Newton, however, some felt they may be stretching him too thin.
“It will be an issue of enforcement, it really will,” said Mayor Bob Sweet who identified the Civic Centre, Petawawa Point and the Catwalk as the three spots where violations will happen. “I don’t see one person being able to do this (ensure enforcement) in three locations.”
To compromise with smokers, designated smoking areas will be identified. According to the bylaw’s current draft, these areas must be 30 metres from doorways, vents, operable windows, ventilation ducts and entryways. 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.
At the end of the day, Councillor Treena Lemay, who has been pushing for the bylaw for years, said people will accept these constraints just as they have at other locations in the region such as the Pembroke Regional Hospital, Chalk River Laboratories, Miramichi Lodge and on school board-owned properties.
“I don’t think we are going to be overrun with violators,” she said. “The bylaw is good and it’s intent is good.”
With the proper signage and promotion of the bylaw, Councillor Theresa Sabourin agreed there shouldn’t be any major issues with enforcement.
“Once people understand the reason and the logic behind it, we may gain more compliance than non-compliance,” she said.
Staff has still not been able to produce a plan for designating smoking areas at the Civic Centre. It remains one of the outstanding concerns before the draft of the bylaw can be approved and sent to council for a final vote. Councillor Frank Cirella noted that the Civic Centre presents the biggest potential for residents to violate the bylaw.
“The unfortunate thing is we are stuck with a piece of property that does not fit anything,” said Cirella. “We still have to have a place for smokers. We can’t take that right away from them.”
Councillor James Carmody stated that if people want to smoke, it’s their business, but it’s the responsibility of council to protect the residents of Petawawa from the harmful effects of smoking on other citizens. However, an accommodation for smokers needs to be reached, he added.
“It’s not lifestyle legislation,” Carmody said. “I will never support any legislation which attempts to modify people’s freedom of choice.”
With the designation of smoking areas, Councillor Murray Rutz suggested education outlining the dangers of smoking should be included at those sites.
Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist