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City looks to clear out smokers

City Council is strengthening restrictions on smoking around city-owned facilities.

Most of the smokers who spoke to the Yellowknifer wouldn't mind if city council expanded restrictions on smoking near city property.
Nov. 14, 2017

Councillors directed city administration Monday to draft a bylaw that would see smoking banned on all city-managed recreational properties, except for in designated smoking areas.

The bylaw would amend the current smoking by-law to prohibit smoking on the grounds of the Fieldhouse, Multiplex, Yellowknife Community Arena, curling club, Ruth Inch Memorial Pool, other parks, outdoor sports fields and the plaza next to City Hall.

Those looking to light up will be able to do so only in special smoking areas that have yet to be determined.

The designated smoking areas will be marked by signs and located at least three meters from doorways or air intakes.

It's unclear at this time what designated smoking areas will look like in city parks and plazas.

Trails, sidewalks and streets are not included in the smoking ban.

“Council was very clear on the fact that they didn't want smoking in recreational facilities, because that seems to contradict the two activities,” Dennis Marchiori, the city's director of public safety, said in an interview last week.

The city banned smoking from inside public buildings, office buildings, restaurants and bars in 2003.

In 2004, the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission made regulations prohibiting smoking in any enclosed workplace, and within three meters of any entrance or exit to a work site.

“Our smoking bylaw, while it's still on the books, there's not as much to enforce on it unless we have someone smoking inside of a public building,” said Marchiori.

This summer, council asked city administration to look into smoking restrictions in other municipalities, and specifically, how they apply to sports and recreational facilities.

City staff found that many provinces have laws banning smoking within 10 to 30 metres of parks and outdoor recreational facilities, and within five to eight metres of entrances to public buildings and air intakes.

Right now, the city maintains cigarette butt receptacles at all of its recreational facilities except the pool.

All of these receptacles are located at least three metres from a doorway.

There are also cigarette receptacles at Somba K'e Civic Plaza, Parker Park and Fritz Theil Park.

When the revised smoking bylaw passes, the city will undertake a public education campaign to get residents used to the new rules.

“We'll probably have staff in the facilities remind people, if they see them smoking near the entrance, that they can't smoke anywhere near those grounds,” said Marchiori.

“And if need be, if somebody has to call municipal enforcement to go down there and provide warnings or issue a ticket for smoking near a city facility than we'll do that as well.”

At Monday night's city council meeting, Coun. Julian Morse said he wanted to ensure that any traditional and ceremonial activities involving tobacco are not included in the ban.