By ROY WOOD
The main new thing about the non-smoking bylaw that went into effect in Oliver on Monday is that you can no longer smoke in parks and other outdoor recreational spaces.
But it isn’t as draconian as the originally proposed bylaw, which, according to Councillor Dave Mattes, “was so large that we were controlling smoking everywhere except in people’s own back yards. … And then we pulled back from that.”
The road to a the town’s smoke-free bylaw began early this year with a letter from Parks and Recreation asking town council to enact a no-smoking bylaw for the town’s parks.
Town staff were asked to propose such a bylaw. However, the draft that came to council in April had “morphed from smoking control in the parks to smoking control in the whole town,” Mattes said in an interview Tuesday.
“I said the way it’s written you can’t smoke on the streets, because those are all town property.”
Staff took another run at it and the version that was adopted and went into effect Monday evening is more specific, particularly when it comes to town streets. Smoking is prohibited there only when a street is being used for an outdoor public event, like a parade or a festival.
Many provisions of the bylaw are already covered by provincial legislation, which prohibits smoking in partly or fully enclosed public buildings, in buses and taxis, school and health care properties and near the entries and exits for public buildings.
Places in which smoking may have been allowed but is now banned include:
•Sports fields and outdoor recreation facilities, like the hike-and-bike trail, playgrounds, walkways and beaches;
•Public streets when they are used for a public event; and
•Transit stops, cemeteries and utility easements.
The smoking ban covers all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars and pipes, as well as cannabis, smoked either recreationally or as a medical therapy.
The ban also includes so-called “vaping,” the use of electronic cigarettes that simulate the feeling of smoking tobacco.
There are three exemptions:
•Designated smoking areas set up for the purpose of an outdoor event;
•Aboriginal cultural activities; and
•The carrying of lighted incense or other lighted equipment solely for ceremonial or religious purposes.
Enforcement will fall to the town’s bylaw enforcement officers. The maximum penalty for contravention of the bylaw is a $10,000 fine.