Edmonton

Churchill Square smoking ban debate heats up

Debate over a proposed smoking ban on Sir Winston Churchill Square came to a standstill Wednesday as councillors tried to come to an agreement over the details.

Strong opinions on smoking ban delays decision

City council will continue debate a smoking ban on Sir Winston Churchill Square next week. (CBC)

Debate over a proposed smoking ban on Sir Winston Churchill Square came to a standstill Wednesday as councillors on the community services committee struggled to come to an agreement over the details.

Coun. Michael Walters brought the idea up in July after receiving complaints about smoking during the festival season.

With 460 different events on the square each year, councillors were told by administration that creating a bylaw would create chaos.

Coun. Ben Henderson said he could not support a smoking ban in the square unless it applied only to major events and festivals.

“If someone is smoking away from me and in a way that’s bothering no one else, I think that’s their problem and not mine,” Henderson said.

Coun. Mike Nickel suggested the city could create “no smoking” signs and make them available to festival and event organizers who want them. He said a blanket ban would be like “taking a sledgehammer to fly.”

While other councillors agreed with the idea of a year-round order to butt out on the square, some take issue with the designated smoking areas on the square's perimeter which were part of the original proposal.

Coun. Bryan Anderson said smoking areas would create an invitation for people to light-up, and that smoke would still be in the square.

Mayor Don Iveson says he prefers a simple approach, so people don’t get confused.

“I think to support that kind of physical activity, and health and wellness in the city, I think it’s just best if there’s no smoking around there,” he said.

The debate was referred to next week's city council meeting, when all councillors can weigh in.

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