Usually if a bylaw is going to be changed from what is first presented to Council it will happen during first reading. That was not the case with Smoking Bylaw No. 2528, which was quite substantially amended this week at third reading, the last stop before adoption.
The bylaw had already been altered by a friendly amendment to include no smoking allowed on any trails within the City of Kimberley. This was mainly in response to a worry about a discarded cigarette starting a fire.
However, at the regular meeting Monday evening, Councillors Albert Hoglund and Darryl Oakley indicated they would not be supporting the bylaw because of that amendment.
Hoglund said the bylaw went too far as written.
“I can see the need for a bylaw for the Platzl, for areas where kids are, but adding all trails has gone way too far.”
“I appreciate the desire for a healthy community,” Oakley said. “But as written it doesn’t match what we’re trying to do. I understand there is a fire risk, but we should be responding to that with Smokey the Bear signs. Second hand smoke is not really a health risk on trails. It doesn’t jive.”
Coun. Nigel Kitto said it was a fantastic bylaw, moving in the right direction.
“There is no safe limit for particulate matter,” he said.
Mayor Don McCormick said that most of the feedback he has received has been that the bylaw is being misunderstood, and that was on Mayor and Council.
“We are trying to accomplish two things with a single bylaw. It’s confused people. It’s misunderstood. It’s not about a health risk on trails, it’s about a fire risk. If we start bringing in bylaws where there is confusion or a perception that they are useless, that concerns me.”
Oakley said that if you were going to start fining people for smoking on trails, where would it end?
“If they do a prescribed burn at Ta Ta Cree and the town fills with smoke, do we fine them?”
It could be a new source of revenue, Coun. Kent Goodwin joked.
In the end, Oakley, Sandra Roberts, Hoglund and McCormick voted to take the trails amendment out of the bylaw.
After the vote, McCormick expressed satisfaction that council had done the right thing in his opinion.
“We want bylaws in place that are solid and relevant,” he said. “Our new corporate officer is going through all city bylaws now, looking for any that need updates.”
As for the smoking bylaw, it will still be illegal to smoke outdoors in the Platzl and at public parks. The city will find a different way to educate trail users about fire risk.
“Our intention at the time was good but we tried to achieve two separate things in one bylaw.”