Smoking ban in Keremeos parks overdue

It’s time to butt out smoking in parks in Keremeos.

A lot of work has been done to create healthy, relaxing and inclusive atmospheres in the village’s parks. By not having a bylaw prohibiting smoking all that work goes up in smoke.

This summer Memorial Park has been a busy place – not only because of the new playground equipment and age-friendly exercise equipment, but because the Info Centre offers free internet and until recently a place to charge up phones and other electronic devices.

There wasn’t many afternoons that 30 or more people weren’t stretched out on the lawn and under the awning of the centre enjoying the sunshine, fresh air and free wi-fi.

And that was all great – except – there also wasn’t many afternoons that the smell of cigarette and marijuana smoke didn’t fill the air regularly.

The police spent many hours at the park checking in and making sure nothing illegal was going on. Tickets were handed out for alcohol related offences as well as marijuana issues.

Nothing could be done about the smoking.

The Clean Air Coalition of BC is currently advocating for all municipalities to put a no smoking ban in place for public outdoor spaces.

The coalition cites health concerns related to breathing in the 4,000 or more chemicals (50 related to cancer) found in second-hand smoke.

“Plus the benefits go beyond protecting health, and include reducing fire risks and butt littering, protecting kids from negative role modelling and eliminating triggers for people trying to quit smoking,” the group’s website states.

A long list of BC communities have already banned smoking in public parks including Kelowna, Salmon Arm, Powell River, Pitt Meadows, Vancouver and more.

At this time the province has not banned smoking in parks and so there is only a patchwork of municipal bylaws in place.

The issue came to Keremeos council earlier this year as discussion after receiving correspondence from the Clean Air Coalition asking for a ban.

Only one councillor at the time was in support of a ban and that was Sherry Philpott-Adhikary.

Hopefully the idea will come forward again this summer and our local politicians will support it.

-T.B.