'You've moved it onto the street': Winnipeg bartender pans new patio smoking ban

A Winnipeg bar manager says the city's new patio smoking ban hasn't solved any problems — it's just moved smokers off restaurant property and onto the street.

Patio smoking ban passed in January, took effect April 1

Since April 1, it's been illegal to smoke or vape on patios where food or alcohol are served in Winnipeg. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

A Winnipeg bar manager says the city's new patio smoking ban hasn't solved any problems — it's just moved smokers off restaurant property and onto the street.

"Instead of the 16 people we would have on our patio, we get 16 to 20 people congregating outside the door here," said Brad Cartman, a manager and bartender at the Army, Navy and Air Force Club 60 in Osborne Village.

In January, Winnipeg city council passed a bylaw to prohibit patrons of bars and restaurants from smoking or vaping where food and alcohol are served outside. The rule took effect on April 1.

Winnipeg was the last major municipality in Canada to make the change.

Point Douglas Coun. Mike Pagtakhan, one of the people who pushed for the bylaw, said it followed extensive public consultation that showed support for the rule. He also cited the dangers of second-hand smoke, which causes cancer.

"This is something that we talked to Winnipeggers about. Seventy-six per cent of Winnipeggers supported a universal ban," Pagtakhan said, referring to the city's consultation numbers.

But Cartman said the ban has come with a whole host of problems he doesn't see being addressed.

"You've moved it onto the street instead of on our patio, where we had plenty of ashtrays to look after it and where we swept up every night," he said. "Now we have to come out here and do it, or hope that the city does it — but they've got enough to do."

He's also concerned about potential confrontations on the street now that smokers are occupying more of the sidewalk, and the possible dangers of groups of people leaving their drinks on tables to go smoke.

"This weekend I had a woman come up to me who wanted to put her drink behind the bar so it could be kept safe, because understandably no one wants to leave their drinks unattended these days, and that's a problem we didn't foresee originally," Cartman said.

Permit system

Cartman said he understands why the ban works for restaurants that appeal to families or serve more food than his bar. In the case of ANAF Club 60, smoking on the sidewalk actually moves patrons closer to the restaurant patio next door, where people regularly sit and eat, he said.

The city could help by providing ashtrays for smokers to use while on sidewalks to help contain the litter, but he doesn't think that will solve the problem entirely.

Brad Cartman fills a beer glass at the Army, Navy and Air Force Club 60 in Osborne Village. (Dave Gaudet/CBC)

"We would've been totally open to … a permit system or something like that. Establishments that are 18-plus that predominantly don't serve food on the patios, we would've gladly paid an annual permit or fee to do that," he said.

"I think that's a consideration the city should've thought of."

Pagtakhan said there will be an adjustment period following the change and the city is willing to work with businesses that have concerns.

"Certainly we'd want to talk to those folks. If there's an issue with excessive littering, certainly we'd like to talk to them and work with them to solve that problem," he said.

"We'd like to see some leadership from those places — maybe some spring cleanup campaigns and cleanup campaigns and educating their members in terms of not littering on sidewalks."

More butts, more mess to clean. Winnipeg bar manager sees direct result of new patio smoking ban. 2:00