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Calgary to consider smoking, vaping ban in parks and on pathways

Calgarians would soon be prevented from lighting up – and vaping – at city parks and on city-owned pathways if a city committee approves bylaw changes Friday.

Proposed amendments to the City of Calgary’s smoking and vaping bylaw come to the Community Development Committee, and it includes prohibiting smoking and vaping in these city areas.

City administration said engagement was done in 2019. It suggested strong support for banning these activities in city parks and pathways.

“Health experts have indicated that further restrictions will
help to de-normalize smoking and vaping, thereby reducing their prevalence and leading to better health outcomes,” the city report read.

Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner, chair of the committee, said this came about after a March request for a review. They wanted to ensure the city’s bylaw matched provincial rules.

At that time, they were also to explore potential amendments to the bylaw to restrict smoking at vaping at parks and on pathways.

“Our parks and pathways are designed to be healthy spaces,” said Penner.

“They are designed to grow activity and recreation, and so having unhealthy by-products in those places, which can negatively affect bystanders, didn’t align with the strategy that we are trying to promote in the city.”

Penner believes this is a good thing, particularly for curbing youth exposure to these products.

“In particular, one of the things I’m actually really concerned about is the vaping rates amongst teenagers,” Penner said.

Complaint basis for enforcement

The bylaw amendments still prescribe rule relaxations for events or festivals.

The amendments also include changes to allow Calgary peace officers to enforce the rules.

Coun. Penner said that peace and bylaw officers often work on a complaint-driven basis. But, the bylaw isn’t being changed with the intent to criminalize people.

“This doesn’t mean that bylaw officers are going to be asked to actively patrol our parks and our pathways for compliance,” she said.

“I think what we also know is that when we create legislation, when we create bylaws, and we create changes, the voluntary compliance is very high.”

If approved, the matter would head to a full meeting of Calgary city council for debate.

Should it be approved there, city admin is recommending an Aug. 1 date for implementation.

The city report said that would give them time to communicate changes to Calgarians.