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Red Deer council passes outdoor smoking bylaw

Red Deerians will now have the right to tell smokers to butt out in some outdoor spots in the city.

By a vote of 7-1 council adopted its revised smoke-free bylaw that bans smoking within 10 metres of playgrounds, sports fields, spray parks, skating rinks, toboggan hills and skate parks on Monday.

The new bylaw also expands the definition of smoking to include other lit substances like cannabis that generate second-hand smoke.

“I don’t think it’s enforceable,” said Coun. Buck Buchanan, who voted against the bylaw. “I believe the concept is right but when the initial bylaw was in 2005, I wasn’t around. To put it out and say here. You set a whole group of problems for people who try to enforce them.”

Coun. Paul Harris unsuccessfully tried to expand the bylaw to ban smoking along parade routes, public markets and children’s festivals. Harris said it makes sense to add these amendments while adopting the bylaw as opposed to putting it on the shelf for another six months.

But councillors felt they did not feel comfortable adopting a bylaw “on the fly” without allowing administration to fully vet the proposed amendments.

At its last meeting on Jan. 21, council passed a resolution to consider expanding the bylaw at a later date but no specific time line was determined.

The bylaw will be brought back in three months to allow council to consider other amendments.

Harris said the research has been done and the issue is becoming more complicated than it needs to be. Harris said he satisfied that a time line has been attached to bringing back the bylaw for more revisions.

Last year the city received requests from residents to expand the bylaw to further protect children. The concerns centred on places at events children are likely to be at, such as farmers’ markets, street festivals and sporting events. This year the city has received about a dozen letters in support of expanding the smoke-free bylaw even more to parade routes, transit stops and markets.

In other council news:

• Starting March 1, fees for garbage collection, recycling, landfill, water and wastewater will increase. On average, residents will pay $4 or $98 more a month on their utility bills. City council approved the utility rate bylaw.

• The city’s building and development permit fees will increase on average 8 per cent (for residential) and 15 per cent (for non-residential). The fee hike puts the permits in line with market rates and with municipalities of similar size. The adjustment should provide a more stable and sustainable funding source and the ability to maintain inspection service levels. City staff have met with representatives from the Canadian Homebuilders Builders Association and the Red Deer Construction Association before the fee adjustment. The fee hike was approved in the 2013 operating budget and the amendment to the license bylaw was adopted on Monday.

• City council voted in favour of Coun. Tara Veer’s motion to set up a community capital strategy.

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