Opinion

EDITORIAL: Help wanted

Smokers regularly gather outside the doors to the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Fraser Valley Centre in Surrey, even though smoking is not allowed anywhere on the premises. - Evan Seal / The Leader
Smokers regularly gather outside the doors to the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Fraser Valley Centre in Surrey, even though smoking is not allowed anywhere on the premises.
— image credit: Evan Seal / The Leader

What do illegal tree cutters, shady secondary suite owners, and errant smokers have in common?

Carte blanche to continue flouting the rules, apparently.

Brain tumour patient David Thiele told The Leader last week he becomes nauseated having to walk through a thick haze of tobacco smoke to get to and from his radiation treatments at the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Fraser Valley Centre in North Surrey.

Despite municipal and provincial legislation banning smoking from within 7.5 metres of building doors, vents and windows – as well as a Fraser Health Authority policy of not allowing smoking anywhere on cancer centre property – the smokers (which include some cancer centre staff) puff on.

Directors at the centre have tried the educational route: extra signage has been placed outside the doors and in the parking lot, and centre employees frequently go outside to personally request that smokers move along.

But their efforts haven’t swayed the tough crowd.

And when cancer centre staff finally called Surrey’s bylaw department, they were told officials couldn’t help.

“They did tell us they don’t have enough resources to have bylaw officers ticket the smokers at our site,” said Melita Konn, secretary to the regional director of the Fraser Valley Centre.

When contacted, Mayor Dianne Watts was not impressed with either the smokers’ lack of compassion or the bylaw department’s response.

She said if there is an issue around staffing, “we need to be dealing with that.”

We respectfully suggest there is an issue.

The City of Surrey, with a population nearing 500,000, employs just 24 bylaw officers. In a fast-growing city experiencing breakneck development and welcoming almost 1,000 new residents each month, that can’t be adequate manpower to ensure everyone plays by the rules.

By comparison, this city is home to the largest RCMP detachment in the country, with 661 police officers and a support staff of 250.

Surrey’s Crime Reduction Strategy, with its focused approach, has been very successful in increasing community safety and contributing to a falling crime rate.

Perhaps it’s time for a similar targeted strategy for bylaw infractions.

A good place to start might be with a “now hiring” tactic.

 

 

 

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