Smoking ban for Churchill Square faces final vote

Councillors opposed to a smoking ban on Churchill Square will have one last chance to stub it out.

‘I see this as impossible to enforce,’ says Coun. Dave Loken

A man smokes while reading a book on Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton. (CBC )

Councillors opposed to a smoking ban on Churchill Square will have one last chance to dissuade its supporters on council.

The ban barley passed two readings after a 6-5 vote on Tuesday. It now faces a third, final vote before becoming a reality.

“I see this is impossible to enforce in a crowded Churchill Square,” Coun. Dave Loken said, before his vote against the ban.

“It does speak a little bit of Big Brother, and I’m not here as a legislator to tell people how they should live their lives.”

Coun. AmarjeetSohi said many people felt the same way when council approved a smoking ban in parks. He said most people don’t smoke there now, even though bylaw officers rarely ticket people.

“There has been voluntary compliance on the part of many, many Edmontonians who are law-abiding,” Sohi said.

He voted in favour of the ban, but said he has concerns about driving away homeless people and other smokers who use the square.

He hopes “voluntary compliance” will keep the square smoke-free.

“As long as we do it the right way, we can give options to those people,” he said. “If we don’t go crazy on the enforcement, focus more on the education and awareness.”

Councillors will vote on the final reading of the ban at the next council meeting, on March 3rd.


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