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Victoria council rejects smoking ban for city square

May 26 2012

A bid by a Victoria councillor to ban smoking from Centennial Square for a six-month trial was snuffed out Thursday.

Coun. Shellie Gudgeon had suggested city staff develop the pilot, calling it a way for Victoria to show "leadership" in public health. "Centennial Square is a gateway to where we do business," she said. "It's the right thing to do."

Gudgeon noted that commissionaires already patrol the square around the clock, so there would be little additional cost for enforcement.

But Coun. Lisa Helps said she couldn't support a ban that could become an excuse for the city to move people along.

"The people who spend a lot of time in Centennial Square are people who have no other places to go, in some cases, and they're sitting there with their backpack and their dog and they're having a cigarette and that is a pleasure.

"There needs to be room for everybody in Centennial Square."

The Capital Regional District's protective services committee is looking into extending its smoking regulations to include parks and playgrounds.

The CRD was breaking new ground when in 1999 it introduced no-smoking regulations covering indoor public spaces. In 2007, those regulations were expanded to include patios attached to restaurants and bars.

But other jurisdictions are now taking the lead in restricting smoking in parks and beaches.

About 50 municipalities across the country have enacted bylaws restricting smoking in areas such as parks and playgrounds.

Smoking was banned in regional parks and trails in Vancouver Jan. 1.

Last year, Nanaimo adopted a smoking ban bylaw to expand city smoke-free zones to include to include all city recreation properties, including trails, plazas, parks, beaches and recreation facilities.