District of North Vancouver councillors will debate whether smoking should be banned in all parks and trails in the district.
The present bylaw prohibits smoking within six metres of a children’s playground, playing field, swimming beach, food concession, picnic area and in any part of a park where there is a public event.
Councillor Megan Curren, who brought the motion, said the existing bylaw was not comprehensive and made no mention of trails. She called for stronger language and more regulatory authority for park rangers so the policy could be effectively enforced in Quarry Rock and Lynn Canyon.
Councillor Lisa Muri supported the idea and said a recent request for a wildfire grant led to this conversation. She said the bylaw hadn’t been updated since 2010.
“I am more concerned every year about the dryness of the area, the lack of rain, and something going awry… all leading up to the something I don’t want to imagine. Anything we can do to prevent that from occurring in our forested areas in the community is important,” she said.
Mayor Mike Little lauded Curren for bringing the motion but also expressed his doubts about the proposed ban. He said he would like to ensure that it was related to fire risk. He said in a situation where the fire risk was moderate or higher, the province and the fire chief already had the ability to enforce such a ban.
“But if it is pouring rain or it has been raining for a long time… then I don’t know how the blanket ban is necessarily changing the risk profile,” he said.
Mayor Little said while he didn’t condone smoking from a health perspective, he did understand that people smoked when they were going out for a walk. On a wet rainy day, that posed a low risk, he added. “Our forest is a gem, and I would be horrified to see a wildfire in the forest, but I want to share these concerns. Our bylaws have to be enforceable,” he said.
Muri said she was also worried about the environmental impact of smoking on local trails, and the fire hazard it posed. She said no one walking on the trails should have to inhale second-hand smoke. “So banning it in public and on trails is supportable, regardless of whether it is sunny or rainy,” she said.
The council was supportive of the motion. The staff will now bring amendments to the bylaw at a future council meeting.