Stricter smoking bylaw for Swift Current bans tobacco and vapour products from schools

By Matthew Liebenberg

The new smoking bylaw for Swift Current comes with more restrictions and bans the use of tobacco and vapour products in schools and on school grounds.

Council members were intent on adopting the new bylaw as soon as possible and proceeded to approve it immediately upon being introduced during the regular City council meeting, Feb. 20.

City Clerk Jackie Schlamp said after the meeting there were several reasons for this sense of urgency.

“Our smoking bylaw actually dated back to 1985 with an update in 1993,” she noted. “So it was more or less outdated and obsolete.”

In addition, the provincial government recently enacted further restrictions on tobacco and vaping products that came into effect on Feb. 1. This includes increasing the legal age to purchase these products from 18 to 19.

The new bylaw was therefore discussed by council members at the governance and priorities committee (GPC) meeting on Feb. 14 and it was then brought forward to the regular council meeting on Feb. 20 for decision.

“We wanted to get things through,” she said. There was no reason for us to wait another two weeks to bring it before council. So council already had their discussions around this when it was introduced at our last GPC meeting. And subsequent, we did a few more minor edits to the bylaw based on recommendations from our City solicitor.”

It also became evident the City’s smoking bylaw was overdue for an update after the Swift Current RCMP highlighted difficulties with the enforceability of the old bylaw within schools.

“They were very supportive on this bylaw when it was introduced at the GPC a couple weeks ago,” she said. “And since that date, we actually have received other e-mails that have come in from a parent saying they fully support this as well. We’ve had people call to say that they are in support of this bylaw and thanking us for taking the action that we now can allow an RCMP member serve a violation notice.”

Schlamp did a detailed review of legislation during the preparation of the new smoking bylaw. She looked at the bylaws of nine other communities and the updated provincial legislation on the control of tobacco and vapour products.

“We defined much more,” she said. “This bylaw is much more inclusive. There’s a definition for indoor space or outdoor public space so that we can hopefully have a little bit more jurisdiction and enforceability on some of the things that are going on.”

The new bylaw was effective immediately after its formal approval at the Feb. 20 council meeting and the City’s focus for the rest of the month was to inform residents of the details.

“We can take the rest of this February to provide some educational pieces to the public and let them know what is now going to be a bylaw and enforceable within our community,” she said. “And then come March 1, we will start doing some full-on enforcement with it.”

The new bylaw prohibits smoking and vaping in a school or school property, including athletic fields, parking lots and the grounds surrounding a school. Smoking and vaping are also not allowed in indoor public places (including common areas), outdoor public places (including common areas, parks, play areas and sports fields) or inside a public or City vehicle.

The bylaw specifies that smoking and vaping are not allowed within three metres of a main entrance, secondary doorway, window or air intake of an indoor public place and also not within three metres of the boundaries of an outdoor public place, common area, park, play area or sports field.

Failure to comply with the bylaw, failure to post no smoking signage as well as smoking or vaping in a prohibited place will result in a fine of $150. This amount will double for any subsequent offence within 12 months of the initial offence. Damaging, defacing or removing a no smoking sign will result in a fine of $500.

Failure to pay a fine on a violation notice can result in court proceedings and a summary conviction. This can result in a fine of no less then $100 and not more than $3,000 on a first offence or in the case of a second offence the fine will be no less than $200 and up to $5,000.

Council approved new animal control bylaw:

An updated and more detailed animal control bylaw was formally approved during the regular council meeting, Feb. 20.

Council members expressed support for the new bylaw. Councillor Ryan Switzer said the goal of the new bylaw is to promote responsible pet ownership and Councillor Leanne Tuntland-Wiebe said it will enhance community safety and the well-being of people and their animals within Swift Current.

Updates in the new bylaw include amendments to impound regulations and daily housing fees, revised regulations to prohibit the keeping of exotic and wild animals, the appointment of animal control officers, specifying additional fines for previously undefined violation notices, and updating the fine amounts paid for any violations as well as new fees for cat and dog licenses.

It specifies the responsibilities of cat and dog owners to prevent their animals from running at large and becoming a nuisance.

The new bylaw includes fines for a variety of offences, including $100 for a pet defecating on another property, $100 for an unattended dog in a vehicle, $200 for abandoning an animal or failing to provide shelter and care, and $400 for keeping a prohibited or exotic animal.

A person can receive a fine of $200 for teasing or throwing objects at a dog, for untying or freeing an animal or willfully opening a gate or door.

“Increased licensing fees and fines are intended to discourage contravention of the bylaw and the licensing fees reflect rates comparable with other cities,” Tuntland-Wiebe said. “It is important to note that these fees also contribute to funding the SPCA services and operations and support the Swift Current dog park. There’s $2 from every dog license that goes towards the Swift Current dog park.”