As part of readying local bylaws for this month’s legalization of non-medical cannabis, the District of Sechelt is looking at an overhaul of its smoking bylaw.
The draft of an update to the Smoking Control Bylaw was presented to council’s planning committee on Sept. 26.
The staff report noted that the last review of the bylaw, which would have acted on requests from Vancouver Coastal Health to expand smoke-free buffers and take other measures that went beyond the provincial regulations, was abandoned in 2016.
At the time, a survey with more than 240 responses showed strong support for tighter restrictions on smoking in public places.
There was also a change in the provincial regulations that year which ended up including many of the steps that council had been considering such as increasing buffer zones from three to six metres around doors, air intakes and open windows at any public or private workplace and condominiums and apartment buildings.
The province also specified that smoking legislation applied to e-cigarettes and vaping.
According to director of planning Tracy Corbett, the proposed update to Sechelt’s Smoking Control Bylaw includes a 7.5-metre buffer zone, which would bring the bylaw in line with the one in Gibsons.
It would also prohibit smoking on all District of Sechelt properties, including facilities that are being leased or used by someone other than the district, and outdoor public spaces owned, controlled, or operated by the district such as playgrounds, sports fields, “designated trails, pathways, parks and beaches” and bike and skate parks.
To bring the bylaw into sync with the changes in cannabis laws it would include language to expand the definition of smoking “to include substances other than tobacco and the different methods by which substances can be smoked… The proposed Smoking Control Bylaw utilizes a broad definition for smoking which includes vapourizing devices and cannabis.”
Although the report recommended moving the updated bylaw to council for three readings, the committee, consisting of councillors Mike Shanks, Darnelda Siegers and Alice Lutes, voted to recommend first reading, followed by more consultation.
“There’s huge impact for the community with this, [such as] no smoking on beaches, no smoking on trails. It’s widespread… There may be some pushback, but I don’t know. We’ll find out,” Siegers said.
Lutes said she would happily have gone straight to three readings, but understood the need to let the wider community have some input.
“I’m really pleased to see this come forward and I would go all the way to third [reading], but I understand the reluctance to go that far at this stage,” Lutes said. “I think its important that before our streets have people smoking marijuana on them around our children that we get this in place and I am hopeful that the community will agree with that.”
The new provincial and federal laws on non-medical cannabis come into force on Oct. 17.