BANFF – A draft smoke-free bylaw that could see smoking restricted in certain outdoor public areas will head to council for a final decision.
Banff's governance and finance committee (GFC) voted for the draft bylaw to head to a future council meeting, which if approved, would restrict smoking in municipal parks and green spaces, on trails and pathways, at outdoor markets and events, at bus stops, on sidewalks and in proximity to children not in one’s custody or care.
“The way the bylaw is drafted at this time, the smoking or vaping of tobacco in Banff would be allowed at surface parking lots and private property,” said Alison Gerrits, director of community services. “One area that was not included in the draft was the additional distance of smoking from a doorway or window.”
The draft bylaw is modelled on a template provided by Action Smoking and Health.
The reason that this was not included was the cost associated with the change of signage across the community.
“Removing this element from the bylaw predominantly limits the signage requirements to the municipality,” Gerrits said.
Smoking rooms and floors in hotels was also not included in the draft. Administration spoke with multiple hotels and did not find any properties that had smoking rooms or floors.
Town administration also spoke with the municipalities of Strathmore and Okotoks, which had enacted similar bylaws.
“In most cases, the interactions between municipal enforcement were used to make people aware of the bylaw and to direct people to locations where smoking is permitted,” Gerrits said.
At the June 13, 2022 meeting of GFC, administration was directed to return with a draft Banff smoking bylaw that would restrict smoking and vaping in public outdoor places beyond what provincial legislation currently restricts.
That bylaw came before the committee again on Aug. 9.
GFC was given three options for how to move forward. The first was to bring the bylaw back to council for first reading by Q4 2022, while the second was to direct administration to return to a future meeting with more proposed amendments by the end of Q4. The third was to receive the draft bylaw as information and take no further action.
“At this point in time, administration recommends the option to come back with first reading to ensure we give enough time for public input,” Gerrits said. “Administration is not recommending a further public consultation beyond what has already been done.”
The draft bylaw does not require a public hearing to be held.
Coun. Hugh Pettigrew asked about staff at restaurants who had short breaks and could only smoke outside their establishment.
“If we have so many restrictions in places to go, my concern is that people will smoke in areas that are not desirable,” Pettigrew said. “That is all they have for a smoke or vape. Are we restricted in an alley?”
Gerrits responded the bylaw does not include alleys.
“Currently a roadway or an alley would be permitted as long as it is not a sidewalk or trail,” Gerrits said. “It is up to businesses to ensure individuals are not smoking within five metres of an open window or doorway.”
Mayor Corrie DiManno brought up with numerous visitors to the tourism-based community, how it would be brought up to visitors who are not aware of where the townsite ends and Parks Canada’s boundary begins.
Gerrits said it would follow the same approach as was done with cannabis regulation.
DiManno noted the draft bylaw was an opportunity for Banff to be at the forefront and to protect public spaces.
“I think that what continues to resonate with me, this is the way of the future and in Banff we like to be leaders and at the forefront,” DiManno said. “This is likely the way of the future to protect our public spaces. I would like Banff to contribute to that healthier Alberta and healthy Canada.”