Smoking ban on hold – for now

Surrey's public smoking ban is on hold – for now.
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A smoking ban in Surrey has been temporarily stalled while city staff examine the potential impacts of such a bylaw.

Last week, Surrey's Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee unanimously called for a ban on smoking on all parks and beaches in the city.

Coun. Mary Martin, chair of the committee and head of the Mayor's Task Force on Health, felt the idea would pass easily through the committee and council.

"Council felt it was important for them to receive a corporate report, so that they could fully understand the implications and how we were going to enforce the bylaw," Martin said Tuesday.

Martin said for the first few months, bylaw officers will ask people to butt out, but will hold back on fining them.

"They'll tell you what the implications are, they'll tell you there's a bylaw," Martin said.

But if you're caught later, you will get a $200 fine.

While she understands council's concerns, Martin wanted to see the recommendation endorsed on Monday.

"I really wanted to see it pass," Martin said. "But I understand it's important for council to get the full report and understand it."

Coun. Bob Bose said he was extremely frustrated to see the recommendations go back to staff.

"It's ill-advised," said Bose. He wants council to adopt a strong policy position, educate the public if necessary, then enforce the bylaw.

"What is council standing for, are they or are they not opposed to smoking in public places?" he asked. "It's frustrating as heck for me."

He described the parks proposal as an important public policy position and "you better be clear about where you're going."

The corporate report will be back before council on Feb. 7.

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