Coldstream considers prohibiting tobacco at beaches

Coldstream is hoping to clear the air by butting out smokers from public places.

Coldstream is hoping to clear the air by butting out smokers from public places.

Playgrounds, parks, beaches, wharfs, trails, bus stops, bar and restaurant patios, outside retail stores and vehicles occupied by anyone under 19 are among the list of potential places to be smoke-free.

The suggestion came from staff to create a smoke-free bylaw for outdoor public places. But the politicians have some reservations about just how far they can take their authority.

“How can it be enforced? To make bylaws is one thing but are you actually going to start slapping people with fines?” asked Mayor Jim Garlick.

Coun. Richard Enns also questions Coldstream’s authority when it comes to the last listed smoke-free place – vehicles. Council agreed not to pursue this option.

“I think we might be stepping outside our jurisdiction,” said Enns. “This is certainly not a public place.”

In B.C., it is already illegal for anyone to smoke in a vehicle with children, but many municipalities have doubled up on the existing law with their own bylaws.

To date, local municipal bylaws have not been challenged. But Enns, who is a lawyer, warns Coldstream not put itself in the potential position.

“I certainly don’t think the district should be setting itself to be set up as a test case.”

The Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Lung Association say 40 municipalities have implemented smoke-free bylaws.

“There’s no impetus for council to do this,” said Michael Stamhuis, Coldstream’s chief administrative officer. “This was staff being pro-active and doing the research.”

A potential bylaw, with enforcement and penalties, is anticipated to come back to Coldstream council for future discussion.