Outdoor smoking ban idea doesn’t get far with Victoria councillors

Budgetary restraints among reasons given for rejection of Gudgeon's proposal

Tammy Carter and Lorn Nelson enjoy a smoke while relaxing in Centennial Square. City council rejected a proposal to ban smoking in the square as a pilot project for a wider ban on lighting up in outdoor places where people congregate.

Tammy Carter and Lorn Nelson enjoy a smoke while relaxing in Centennial Square. City council rejected a proposal to ban smoking in the square as a pilot project for a wider ban on lighting up in outdoor places where people congregate.

An idea to ban smoking in Centennial Square didn’t find the support required to move forward.

Coun. Shellie Gudgeon put forward a motion to impose the ban on a six-month trial basis. She proposed extending the ban to all outdoor public spaces where people congregate, if the test ban were successful.

“It’s the right thing to do,” she said. “It’s encouraging people to quit, but it’s creating a healthy and welcoming environment.”

Council, however, didn’t support her motion.

“Given these times of fiscal restraint, we don’t need to add more things for the city staff to do … when we’re already looking for things to cut,” said Coun. Lisa Helps.

She also opposed the motion on social-justice grounds and the policing of poverty.

“I can already see it in my mind’s eye that someone who is living on the street or homeless or has nowhere else to have a cigarette … and the bylaw officer comes and moves them along for no other reason than they are smoking.”

Centennial Square, she said, “has to be a place for everyone.”

Until smoking was banned in Greater Victoria restaurants and bars around the turn of the century, Gudgeon was a heavy smoker. The change in legislation, she said, gave her the incentive she needed to quit.

While her idea for the ban didn’t make it past the committee stage, other local municipalities have taken steps to broaden their smoking bans in recent years.

North Saanich has prohibited smoking in parks and along trails. Sidney is also considering a ban on smoking in outdoor public spaces and is encouraging the Capital Regional District to do the same.

rholmen@vicnews.com