Town council has given the green light to establish smoking areas at the SLS Centre and Cochrane Arena.
The amendment to the town smoking bylaw received final readings last night (Apr. 24). Areas can be established, providing they are no closer than five metres to any entrance. The amendment is specific to these two recreational facilities. Smoking continues to be prohibited at all other public recreational facilities.
"I know that some people say there shouldn't be smoking areas, but what we found is that smoking is not illegal and people continue to smoke when there's no designated smoking area," said Councillor Morgan Nagel in putting second reading on the floor, "They instead just smoke where they shouldn't, which is right in front of the doors and stuff like that. Designated smoking areas are going to help people who are nonsmokers and smokers, so it's just logical."
Council gave unanimous approval to the change, although Councillor Susan Flowers first sought clarification before casting her ballot.
"I was all for it when I knew that we needed to do something different, but I think it needs to be stronger. Some people have reached out to me that were involved with having it changed in the first place, health people in particular, and they're not happy with it just coming out. I think we need to look at it a little closer. Even the Lions Club facility is a recreation facility, and there are cigarette butts all over the place."
Community Services director Mitchell Hamm assured her the bylaw amendment is specifically for the two rec centres. He says it has been challenging for staff at the centres to enforce. He points out it typically takes about five minutes to smoke a cigarette, further adding to the difficulty of enforcing the bylaw.
"The intention is to put designated smoking areas that are marked, well-signed, and with receptacles to receive butts," explained Community Services director Mitchell Hamm.
In January 2017, town council approved an amendment to the town smoking bylaw that prohibited smoking or vaping within five metres of any public sports field and recreation centre.