Make Sparks Street Mall smoke free, group argues

An anti-smoking coalition has sent a letter to management at the Sparks Street Mall asking that the outdoor pedestrian mall be made smoke free.

Ottawa Council on Smoking or Health argues kids events not compatible with cigarette smoke

Carol McDonald with the Ottawa Council on Smoking or Health says Sparks Street Mall should be governed by the same bylaws that ban smoking in parks. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)

An anti-smoking coalition has sent a letter to management at the Sparks Street Mall asking that the outdoor pedestrian mall be made smoke free.

Ottawa Council on Smoking or Health president Carol McDonald said the council has fielded dozens of complaints about cigarette smoke at the mall.

She said the mall is pitching itself to families with events like the world's largest sandbox and amusement rides.

"You come down here and you see kids on a Ferris wheel and then there are people smoking right next to them," said McDonald. "If they want to be called a playground then they have to act the part."

The city of Ottawa's smoking bylaw already bans cigarettes from outdoor patios and parks, and McDonald said the outdoor mall is a similar venue.

Last spring McDonald started an online petition. She said 72 per cent of 260 people who responded to their online poll supported a smoking ban.

Les Gagne, the head of the Sparks Street Mall Authority, is not committing to go smoke free just yet.

Gagne said he'll listen to the council's arguments and bring the smoke-free designation to his board for consideration.

"I'd want to make sure it doesn't have a negative impact," said Gagne. "If the ByWard market takes a lead on it — they are a better known destination — it makes it easier for us to say 'yes, there's an economic opportunity and health benefit here."

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