It’s all smoke and mirrors on how the City of North Vancouver has chosen to move ahead with the discussion on banning smoking in the city, an aspiring local politician told the council.
Kerry Morris, who is running for the position of the CNV Mayor, questioned the CNV councillors on their decision to take the discussion about smoking behind closed doors.
Morris said the rationale for taking any discussion behind closed doors is labour, land purchase and sale, and legal matters, not whether smoking should be banned in the city or not.
“A smoking bylaw on West 1st street doesn’t qualify, and it’s abuse of the local government act that this matter is being discussed and kept from public disclosure,” he said.
Addressing Mayor Darrell Mussatto, Morris said rules need to be applied to everyone, including the council.
“The rules are the rules for a reason and you compel them to be enforced for every speaker that comes here, as to whether or not they can speak on a subject. The rules apply to you too. You shouldn’t be holding in-camera matters that are not appropriate to be there, and you shouldn’t be holding votes over and over until you get the results you want,” he said.
But rebuttal to Morris came quickly from Councillor Rod Clark, who said it’s easy to sit on the other side and blame. “I have sat in this gallery before I was elected, and I challenged a lot of things that were supposedly being done in-camera that I thought were not appropriate. It’s a really easy thing to do when you are sitting in the gallery and say it to the people who are sitting here and are duly elected,” he said.
Clark said councillors do challenge each other on what should and should not go behind closed doors meetings. “Every issue we have here is challenged by one of the members on this table, as to why this should be in-camera. We have a discussion about every item and its appropriateness to be in camera. We were advised by the clerk that the smoking prohibition was to be discussed in-camera because of legal obligation,” he said.
Councillor Pam Bookham also echoed Clark’s view. “We discuss matters in-camera when we are receiving legal advice with respect to our authority over certain matters. There are valid reasons for having that discussion in-camera,” she said. The council based its discussion on a staff report entitled ‘smoking prohibition expansion and enforceability’ whose findings the City of North Vancouver decided not to release to the public.
Based on the report and the discussion that followed, the council decided not to ban smoking on city lands because of the challenge of enforcing such a ban.
Clark said the whole matter of smoking on West 1st had been very enthusiastically pushed by a resident of that street, but there is a voluntary ban on smoking on the street.
“It’s a whole lot of smoke for nothing as far as I am concerned, and I will support this until the province brings forward legislation that we can do the action that everyone is suggesting,” he said.
Mayor Mussatto also supported not enforcing the ban, but Bookham was the dissenting voice, who said she was concerned about impact of smoking on the waterfront areas as well as its impact when smoking marijuana is legalised. The motion to not ban smoking passed with Bookham opposed.