By JOE FRIES
Forget about lighting up a cigarette, sparking a joint or puffing on a vaporizer in Oliver parks this summer.
Oliver Town council on Monday directed staff to begin work on a bylaw to ban smoking in all public spaces under the control of the Oliver Parks and Recreation Society, such as Lion’s Park and Rotary Beach.
“I think it’s a coming of age thing and might take some enforcement and education in the beginning, but it’s the way things are moving,” Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes said in an interview Tuesday.
“We already have outdoor events that are smoke-free and nobody seems to mind,” he added, pointing to the Festival of the Grape, which annually attracts thousands of people to Oliver Community Park.
In response to a public complaint about the issue, Council in November referred the matter to the Oliver Parks and Recreation Society for comment, which suggested the outright smoking ban.
Oliver corporate officer Diane Vaykovich explained in her report to Council Monday that such a prohibition would help further the society’s strategic goals.
“Keeping Oliver greener and healthier is to protect park visitors and staff from exposure to second-hand smoke and discarded cigarette butts,” Ms. Vaykovich wrote.
“Reducing or eliminating the prevalence of cigarette butts littering the parks and children’s play areas will help reduce the risk of fire from carelessly discarded lit cigarette butts, particularly in the landscape of Lion’s Park.”
Mayor Hovanes expects the proposed bylaw to be returned to council for approval within 60 days.
“I think we really want to have it in place prior to spring and people actively using our parks and recreation facilities,” the mayor noted.
If the bylaw is adopted, Oliver would become the last community in the South Okanagan to impose such a smoking ban in parks.
Osoyoos led the way in 2011, followed by Penticton in 2013 and Summerland in 2015.
Provincial regulations already prohibit smoking within three metres of doorways, windows or air intakes for public spaces, and give bar and restaurant owners the right to make their patios smoke-free.