Ottawans Ponder Smoking Ban in Campgrounds
Not all city properties in Ottawa, Ontario, are cut from the same cloth under the expanded non-smoking bylaw.
Areas like libraries and police stations are covered by arm’s-length boards that have their own authority to choose whether to adopt the city’s new policy banning smoking on all city properties, which is mainly aimed at parks and beaches, the Ottawa East EMC reported.
Some of them, like the police services board and most recently, the library board, have quickly introduced the same smoking ban.
Library board Chairwoman Jan Harder, councillor for Barrhaven Ward, says it wasn’t a difficult decision because it just makes sense to ban smoking outside libraries.
“I don’t think people come to the library to smoke,” she said.
But the waters get murkier when discussion shifts to other municipal facilities that don’t fall under the city’s ban, such as the municipal campground on Corkstown Road and the Pine View Golf Course near Gloucester.
The city’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Isra Levy, sent all those authorities letters inviting them to adopt the smoking ban, but the decision wasn’t quite as easy for some, like the municipal campground authority, which considered the ban at the same time as the library board.
It’s a more complicated decision to ban smoking in the campground, said campground authority board member Mark Taylor, councillor for Bay Ward.
As chairman of the city’s community and protective services committee, Taylor is a big champion of the expanded non-smoking bylaw. But he and other campground board members faced a dilemma: are campsites more akin to hotel rooms, or to festivals that rent city park space?
Before making a decision on whether to extend a smoking ban in the campground’s common areas to the campsites, the board asked for legal advice on whether the sites are considered temporary residences and would therefore be exempt from a smoking ban.
“We might already be there,” Taylor said.
Lighting up on the municipally owned golf course shouldn’t be banned, either, said Rideau-Goulbourn Councillor Scott Moffatt, a member of the board that oversees Pine View Golf Course. If the rest of local golf courses allow smoking, it puts Pine View at a disadvantage, he said.
“It’s not a level playing field,” he said.
Even Taylor agreed with that sentiment. While he insisted he supports the premise of the non-smoking bylaw, he said that if a smoking ban on the green would put the city’s golf course at a financial disadvantage, it may not be worth it (he added that he won’t participate in that decision, since he does not sit on the golf course board).
Beacon Hill-Cyrville Councillor Tim Tierney, who also sits on the golf course board, agreed.
“The golf course is already in a financial position,” he said, referring to an auditor general’s report last fall that showed lax oversight and financial mismanagement at the golf course.
The patio smoking ban already applies to Pine View’s restaurant, just like every other patio in the city, Moffatt and Tierney noted.
The golf course board won’t meet to discuss Levy’s offer to adopt the non-smoking bylaw until May.
As for campgrounds, Moffatt also offered his two cents: “Are you going to ban campfires, too?”