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(Posted 10:30 p.m., Feb. 22)
City council approves extending no smoking bylaw to patios, parks and sports fields

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Ottawa's 140,000-plus smokers will no longer be able to exercise their habit in the city's municipal parks, sports fields and outdoor patios after council voted to extend the no smoking bylaw on Wednesday.

Council made its decision, save for Orléans Ward Coun. Bob Monette and Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley, despite the fact that the new bylaw will be almost impossible to enforce.

Ottawa's chief bylaw officer, Linda Anderson, said the ban will be complaint-driven, meaning there are no plans for scores of bylaw officers to be sent out in search of offenders. Instead, the department will monitor complaints to determine areas where non-compliance is especially high and then target those areas.

The newly expanded bylaw will come into effect on April 2, but tickets won't be handed out until July 2 following a three month education period.

Gloucester South-Nepean Coun. Steve Deroches tried to delay implementation until Sept. 4, but his motion was unanimously defeated.

Monette voted against extending the bylaw based on his stance that education is better than enforcement. He used the same argument when he voted against the Anti-idling Bylaw five years ago. Since the controversial bylaw was implemented the city has issued just four tickets.

"I will always support education over enforcement. This bylaw is not enforcible. Instead, it will force smokers on to the sidewalks and streets. I guess once we start enforcing (the bylaw) we can create smoking lanes," said Monette, tongue firmly planted in cheek.

The new expanded bylaw is being heralded by Cumberland Ward Coun. Stephen Blais, who brought forward the original motion requesting the Ottawa Board of Health review and report back to council on the public health value of banning smoking from public spaces.

Within hours of council's decision, he made the following post on his Facebook page: "It's official! Ottawa City Council passed the smoke-free outdoor bylaw today! Patios, parks, beaches, sports fields, festivals and fruits and vegetable markets on municipal property will go 100% smoke-free as of April2, 2012. Enjoy!!!"

(This story was made possible thanks to thier generous support of our local business partners.)

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