Banning smoking in CDN / NDG parks – NDMarvin Rotrand will be tabling a motion to ban smoking in parks at the November 5 Borough Council meeting in Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. The Snowdon city councilor has long been an advocate for a ban on smoking in parks. The proposed ban will cover tobacco as well as marijuana. It will if adopted apply only to parks in the west-end borough. Parks are local, City Council can recommend but only has jurisdiction in regional parks like Mount Royal.
“I would like there to be the same uniform rule of no smoking in parks anywhere in Quebec,” he says. Provincial law in Quebec currently bans smoking nine meters from children’s play areas. Rotrand thinks this kind of regulation doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. “There is no such thing as a safe level of smoke,” he says noting smoke diffuses in the air and can travel well beyond a nine meter radius.
Five boroughs on the island of Montreal have adopted non-smoking bylaws. In some places the rules are stringent; in others less so. Westmount recently banned smoking in parks and green spaces. Hampstead went a step further: no smoking at all in public spaces including sidewalks and streets. One potential problem involves smoking marijuana in public spaces. Rotrand thinks some of the existing regulations are ambiguous as applied to smoking marijuana. Any regulations curtailing smoking marijuana are likely to be challenged by marijuana advocates who are riding high now that cannabis use has been legalized in Canada.
The “Dean” of Montreal City Council isn’t worried. Rotrand is the longest-sitting member of Montreal City Council and as such his opinion carries weight across the island-city and throughout the province. He hopes this local initiative will spur other boroughs and cities to follow suit. This isn’t his first rodeo. Rotrand’s fight with like-minded colleagues in other municipalities goes back to 2000. Quebec banned smoking in public spaces and workplaces, such as offices, hospitals, restaurants and bars on 31 May 2006. Smoking is banned on the properties of elementary and high schools. The province eliminated designated smoking rooms in 2008.
However, Rotrand says the government gave them only “a quarter loaf”. “Montreal is not ahead of the curve,” he says, noting twelve hundred US cities have banned smoking in parks, recreation areas, and beaches. Vancouver has done the same; ditto, for Halifax, Ottawa, Saskatoon, and to some extent Edmonton. Quebecers have a reputation for being smokers. This is one of those stereotypes that has a grain of truth. A study at the University of Waterloo on tobacco consumption showed that in 2015, smoking prevalence in Quebec was 14.2%, slightly above the national average of 13.0%, However, from 1999-2015 prevalence appeared to decline fairly steadily, and more steeply than in other provinces.
Premier François Legault has said he intends to follow through on a campaign promise to ban smoking marijuana in public and to raise the legal age to 21 as soon as possible.The Plante administration said it has been in preliminary talks with the CAQ officials about the new government’s proposed amendments to the law. Mayor Valerie Plante said while the city believes in the benefits of the current law, it won’t stand in the government’s way if it decides to do something different.
Rotrand believes there is broad public support for a smoking ban in parks and hopes that his colleagues at the borough and in the city will soon come on board.