Courtenay is looking at introducing a bylaw that would ban the smoking of tobacco, cannabis, and vaping in parks, public spaces and other city properties.
The bylaw was discussed at council Monday night.
Currently, the city does not have an outdoor smoking bylaw. The closest thing is “Bylaw 1656” which only allows smoking in designated areas and hasn’t been changed since 1992.
The new and improved bylaw would fit in better with current provincial and local policies and regulations.
There were more questions than answers, however. Councillors were confused in the wording of “public spaces” and wanted to know what specifically that would mean.
Councillor Doug Hillian says the question isn’t where smokers wouldn’t be allowed to go, but rather where would they be allowed to smoke.
“The bylaw itself refers to public spaces and the definition of a designated public space includes a public playing field, a public playground and public squares, and public squares. My reading of that is that it wouldn’t include a sidewalk and in fact, people can walk down the street and smoke,” said Hillian
“The problem that I want to eliminate is confusion among people because while it’s relatively clear where people can’t smoke, it leaves open the question of where actually can then smoke apart from their own private space.”
Director of Legislative Services John Ward responded by saying staff will have to take another look at the bylaw before final adoption to clarify the definitions.
Councillor Hillian also put forward an amendment that the council give the bylaw a first and second reading. That motion was passed unanimously, as well as the first and second readings.
As part of the process as well, Comox Valley Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns must be consulted. That important feedback will help staff make changes to the bylaw before adoption.
The third and final reading of the “Smoking in Parks and Public Places Regulation Bylaw” will be discussed at a future council meeting.