Pubdate: Wed, 22 Jun 2016
Source: Packet & Times (CN ON)
Page: A1
Copyright: 2016 Orillia Packet and Times
Author: Patrick Bales


By this time next year, it may be a lot harder to smoke just about 
anywhere in Orillia, but first a significant budgetary hurdle needs 
to be cleared.

Council committee recommended to council Monday night to support, in 
principle, banning smoking on city-owned and -leased property. That 
would include all of the property, both indoors and outdoors.

Long overdue, said Coun. Ralph Cipolla, a former smoker who has been 
calling for tighter restrictions on cigarettes for years.

"No amount is safe ... Being around second-hand smoke puts you at 
risk of developing lung cancer and other lung diseases," he said 
during an impassioned defence of the motion, which touches on a 
plethora of anti-smoking statistics. "We spend millions and millions 
of dollars in our community to make things better for our community 
.. I think this is a small amount to protect people from dying from 
lung cancer or any cancer associated with (smoking)."

In theory, it's something nearly all anti-smoking advocates would 
champion. But in a city facing a financial crunch, the cost may cause 
the idea to be snuffed out more quickly than it takes to strike a match.

Staff estimate bringing in such a ban could cost the city upward of 
$70,000. That money would go toward hiring a part-time 
bylaw-enforcement officer - as the current staff members are 
overworked as it is and would not be able to adequately enforce such 
an ordinance - purchasing a new bylaw vehicle, signage and a 
comprehensive education campaign.

The regulations would also tackle the use of e-cigarettes and 
medicinal marijuana. The costs considered by city staff did not take 
into consideration any potential challenge to the bylaw, particularly 
with regard to the medicinal-marijuana component.

The recommendation is not for council to approve the money at its 
next meeting, the final one before the summer schedule takes over. 
Rather, Cipolla's motion, which echoed Option 2 of the staff report, 
called for councillors to make the decision during budget deliberations.

Coun. Mason Ainsworth didn't want to see it get that far.

"I know we don't have $70,000 next year to go down this road and I 
think sending it to budget is just a joke at this point, wasting 
staff's time, because we know it's not going to get put through," 
Ainsworth said.

He lamented a further smoking ban as not being one of council's top 
priorities and suggested if the $70,000 was to be found, it could be 
at the expense of other services.

He also didn't see the need, based on the findings of the staff 
report. In 2015, staff indicated approximately 17 complaints were 
received by the city regarding smoking in areas outdoors where it is 
not already prohibited. The staff report also indicated the problems 
of reactive enforcement, as the cigarette is likely out by the time a 
bylaw officer could arrive. "We need to govern responsibly," he said. 
"The reality is (bylaw enforcement is) stretched too thin as it is. 
For us to give them something that is pretty much across the entire 
city, the reality is they're not going to be able to implement it."

Ainsworth isn't necessary exaggerating when it comes to the physical 
scope of such a ban. Public works is responsible for 39 parks, 11 
parking lots and the Gordon Lightfoot/Millennium trail system, which 
is 31 km long. All of those places would become smoke-free under a 
proposed bylaw, superseding the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.

But the rookie councillor's comments irked Cipolla.

"Councillor Ainsworth, this isn't a joke," Cipolla said. "We're 
dealing with people's lives."

Staff first investigated a further tightening of the city's 
anti-smoking regulations following a request from residents last 
fall. Earlier this year, the Downtown Orillia Management Board (DOMB) 
asked council to consider a ban of smoking in the downtown core, 
something the city solicitor has told council it is unable to do 
under current provincial regulations.

Coun. Ted Emond, when throwing his support behind the recommendation 
to send the issue to budget, indicated he will introduce an amendment 
to the motion when it comes before council next week, calling on the 
province to amend its regulations regarding smoking on "highways."

Various city agencies seem to be split on further bans. The Orillia 
Farmers' Market committee was supportive of a ban on smoking in city 
parking lots, and the recreation advisory committee passed a 
resolution supporting a ban on city property. The Mariposa Folk 
Foundation's executive committee indicated it was not opposed to the 
ban, while the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce stated it was, in 
contrast with the DOMB.

A third option presented by staff, which would add non-tobacco 
products such as e-cigarettes and medicinal marijuana to the city's 
current anti-smoking regulations, was supported by Orillia OPP.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom