Festival season in Sudbury isn’t anything new – but what is different this year is that there will be no smoking in any event being held in a municipal park.
In February, city council voted to ban smoking in all city-operated parks, which includes such events as the Northern Lights Festival Boreal, Summerfest, and this weekend’s Dragon Boat Festival. The bylaw came into effect this past May.
The city’s parks department says it works with all festival planners to ensure they know about the new bylaw.
Dragon Boat Festival organizers said smoking at the event hadn’t been a huge problem in the past.
"It may be an issue when they come for their lunches and in the Dragon’s Tent where they’re doing a little drinking," said Jim Smith, the chair of the festival. "But I think as far as racers are concerned, they’re too busy with that and [the ban] probably won’t be a problem."
Smith added that all volunteers and team managers had been told about the ban to pass along the information down to their racers.
"If there is a flagrant violation of the bylaw, we’ll speak as sensitively as we can to the people concerned," he said.
As for smoking enforcement at festivals, that can be done through the city’s bylaw department, Sudbury Police, or festival organizers.
"It is a challenge because it’s something people aren’t accustomed to," said Chris Gore, the manager of community partnerships with the city’s parks department. "Because of the scope of the parks and the openness of them, it’s much more difficult to enforce this."
‘Learning experience for everybody’
Greater Sudbury’s bylaw department recently announced that people who fail to comply with the smoking ban may face a $340 fine.
The city does not bring in extra staff to enforce the ban at big events, Gore said, but instead relies on festival goers to call in complaints to 311 or tell a festival volunteer.
Sudbury joins a list of 50 other cities and towns in Ontario that have created a similar bylaw against smoking in municipal parks.
"It’s a learning experience for everybody, because in the past there had been a designated area … where people could go to smoke, say, outside the Amphitheatre Bowl itself, but now that’s not there because it’s still contained within the park," Gore said.
"So it is a little more onerous on smokers to go somewhere they can legally smoke."