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North Van step closer to tripling smoking fines

Last Updated Mar 4, 2020 at 6:01 am PDT

FILE - A smoker holds a cigarette outside a building in Vancouver, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

City of North Vancouver council voted to triple fines for those caught lighting up in no-smoking areas

Fines would go up from $70 to $230 for anyone caught, but enforcement may be an issue according to mayor

The change still needs approval from the province before a final vote from council

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It could soon get more expensive for those caught smoking in no-smoking zones in the City of North Vancouver.

At a council meeting Monday night, council unanimously approved tripling fines from $70 to $230.

The change is an update to the existing smoking bylaw and it still needs to be approved by the provincial government before it goes back to council for final approval.

“We have a vision in this city to be the healthiest small city in the world so we really want to create the environment that supports people to be healthy and, of course, not be exposed to second-hand smoke,”¬†Mayor Linda Buchanan said. “Under the Cannabis Control Act and Licensing Act, that’s the act that sets the fines for smoking cannabis in public and that’s $230, so we wanted to make it the same regardless of what you were smoking.”

Buchanan admits enforcement may be a little tricky.

“I probably hear more about cigarette waste than I do about anything else. It is our last resort to ticket. It’s really more an educational piece and letting people know they’re not allowed to smoke in public and please move along. We could probably never have enough bylaw officers because by the time somebody perhaps complained about it and the officer was able to show up, that person has either moved along or finished smoking their cigarette which would then be a conversation. It’s really about, ‘How do we create the environment that all people can enjoy and that people aren’t exposed to second-hand smoke.”

Currently, people cannot light up in parks, public plazas, pathways, and Shipyard areas like the Burrard dry-dock, or within 7.5 metres of any public buildings, walkways, beaches, or playgrounds.

Because of so many complaints of butts on the ground, Buchanan says the city put forth a resolution to staff last fall to look at bringing in things like receptacles — something that already exists in the City of Vancouver.

“They’re looking at what works… and it has to comply with our bylaw, so there are only certain places we can have them,” she said. “And we do have personal pocket ashtrays our bylaw staff will give out or our park staff will give out, again, we want people to be self-regulating and responsible for the waste they’re producing if they are smokers.”

The city is also cracking down on vaping advertisements on property like benches and bus shelters.