Rossland city council will consider new bylaws to correspond with the shiny new downtown that will soon be complete.
Council voted to send staff to research what other towns are doing with regards to smoking in public places and allowing dogs in the downtown core.
Currently the city’s bylaw states that dogs can’t be brought downtown.
Coun. Jody Blomme brought up the prospect of looking into how other city’s deal with these two issues at last Tuesday’s council meeting.
Blomme said she just wanted to throw the idea out, as it would be good timing.
“Now that we’re nearing the end of the downtown construction, we’re going to have to think about how we’re going to use the downtown,” Blomme said. “Some of the issues that we should perhaps readdress… is the issue of dogs.”
Blomme said that council has talked about changing the dog bylaw into something different or add something to it.
“So if we are going to readdress this, this is probably the right time to do so,” she said.
The other issue that has been brought up by residents to her is the issue of smoking in the new Harry LeFavre Square.
“We’re hoping to have the new Harry LeFavre square be used as a lot more central a place than it has been until now, so that does bring up the issue of smoking in outdoor gathering places for some people,” she said, though added that people may have no problem with it.
Blomme put forward a motion for staff to look into what other communities are doing to deal with smoking in public places and dogs in the downtown core.
“Particularly how or if there are any creative ideas or non-bylaw ways of dealing with this so that they can discuss things that are working and things that are not working for them,” she said.
Mayor Greg Granstrom noted that timewise, city staff will try to get it done when they can, but are stretched thin at the moment.
Coun. Kathy Moore said she also had the smoking issue in mind.
“I was going to bring up the smoking thing, hadn’t thought of the dogs, but the smoking thing also because we saw that email from Kamloops with the motion they are putting forward to the UBCM (Union of British Columbia Municipalities) to ban smoking in public places,” Moore said. “I think that’s actually a pretty cool idea. We’re doing a brand new downtown, spit and shiny clean and it would be nice to keep it that way.”
Moore continued that smoke free areas could benefit the city’s forthcoming skatepark as well. “These are the kinds of areas that you want them to be family friendly and want everyone to be able to enjoy their space and be able to breathe freely,” she said, adding that the city could be proactive as UBCM motions are not known for their speedy transitions into the real world.
“I know the motion at the UBCM, if it goes forward goes to the province and it takes forever and ever, meanwhile we have a shiny new downtown right now and so I support that.”
Coun. Jill Spearn, a former smoker, took the other side of the debate, saying that while she appreciated the motion, she would play “the devil advocate that I am at times.”
“We have to be mindful, I understand smoking and secondhand smoke and those things,” she said. “We live in a community that is not only of non-smokers and I do appreciate that people have to be respectful of others, but mostly to me it is just common sense. If you want to have a cigarette then don’t stand in a group of people and have a cigarette.”
She said that the city can impose rules on top of rules, but democracy and the public right have to be respected as well.
She said she didn’t disagree with the motion.
The mayor noted that the motion was not up for debate at the moment.
Blomme then clarified that in putting forward the motion, she was not necessarily in favour of banning smoking or dogs or removing the bylaw.
“I am strictly saying that we need to have this conversation,” she said.
Coun. Cary Fisher said that there are big cities that have leash laws that allow people to bring dogs downtown.
“Our problem is we have a bylaw that says you’re not allowed to have your dog here,” he said. “We already have one, we don’t need to have a discussion we have a bylaw, unless we’re going to change the bylaw.”
Fisher also worried that the city may be setting itself up for liability issues with the dog bylaw.
“If you have a bylaw and you don’t enforce it, you have an issue, you have liability issues for the City of Rossland,” he said. “I think we either get a leash law bylaw and let them come downtown, because they’re bringing them down anyway, or we randomly enforce it and we throw out some huge fines. One or the other. I think there is no grey area in this matter.”
City staff will look into what other municipalities on the dog and smoking issues and what alternatives there are to just regulating through bylaws and bring it back to council at a future date.