COMOX VALLEY, B.C. – Smokers take heed: butt out when you’re in CVRD parks.

Starting today, a temporary smoking ban will be in place in most CVRD parks due to dry weather conditions and an extreme fire hazard rating.

This includes all parks with forested trails.

Increased patrols will also be added as the park bylaw was recently updated with the authority to impose a $500 fine on those found smoking in the parks.

“The reality is, we’re trying to be cautious and proactive,” CVRD parks and active transportation planner Mark Harrison told MyComoxValleyNow.com. “We are trying to protect our forest’s ecosystems and make sure we’re not adding risk to homes that are adjacent to our parks.”

The district is asking for public compliance with this ban as a forest fire can cause irreparable damage to forest ecosystems and put nearby adjacent homes at risk, according to a CVRD release.

Goose Spit beach area and Royston Marine Drive picnic area are two CVRD parks exempt from the smoking ban due to a park steward onsite at Goose Spit and less vegetation at the Royston picnic area.

“Many parks are in a wilderness setting but just behind the trees are family homes. A cigarette butt or illegal fire could ignite with just the slightest change in wind,” Harrison said. “Use your common sense and protect your parks and neighbours.”

A provincial campfire ban in the region has been in place since July 18.

The ban will be lifted when the hot and dry conditions ease, Harrison noted.