Edmonton

Controversial Churchill Square smoking ban approved

Lighting up in Sir Winston Churchill Square will soon be illegal after council approved a motion on Wednesday for a full smoking ban on the outdoor space.

Lighting up in Sir Winston Churchill Square will soon be illegal after council approved a motion on Wednesday for a full smoking ban on the outdoor space. 

Once the by-law is passed, people caught smoking on the downtown square will be fined $250. 

“This is our central city square that we attract families to for all kinds of programming, all kinds of events,” said Coun. Michael Walters, who brought the idea forward.

However, not everyone on council voted in favour of the by-law. 

Coun. Ben Henderson said the ban would force out a group that is already vulnerable in search of somewhere else to smoke. 

“There’s a lot of people who don’t have a lot of other places to go, who are not the wealthiest people in our society, who I think quite enjoy sitting out in the sun in the square,” Henderson said.

Coun. Tony Caterina also voted against the idea.

"I think this is going way overboard for something that hasn’t had a public outcry," said Caterina. 

Henderson wanted a smoking ban during festivals only, when large crowds were gathered at the square. Other councillors said a consistent anti-smoking message would be easier for people to understand and follow. 

Council still needs to approve a by-law before the ban comes into effect. In the meantime, Coun. Michael Oshry asked city administration to provide more information about banning smoking at all city owned outdoor facilities. 

“In a public venue like a city owned facility, I think there is an onus on city to make sure that it’s enjoyable for everybody, and I think it’s something that we need to look at,” Oshry said.

Any further smoking bans will have to be debated by city council.

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