One last blast over butts


(Acting Mayor David LeSueur laughingly suggests Jeff Earle (foreground) is a bit fuzzy on the details of a smoking ban.)


Jeff Earle is the kind of councillor who doesn't quit when he thinks he is right.

And so one should acknowledge his ironic public service announcement at the end of Tuesday night's city council meeting.

It was a brief session dominated by the Wall Street Village project and its requirements for bicycle parking – another measure that had Earle up in arms.

But, as almost always at regular council meetings, it ended with the adoption of a series of bylaws.

And Earle made sure to end the meeting by informing city residents – the smokers among them at least – that one of the bylaws just passed could be hazardous to their wallet.

Council in the spring approved restrictions on smoking in city parks, athletic fields and along the Brock Trail in a narrow vote that saw some members slam the move as excessive.

The bylaw amendments were meant to harmonize the city's smoking prohibitions with provincial law, but in fact go a step further.

The province amended the Smoke-Free Ontario Act in 2014 to prohibit smoking within 20 metres of children's playgrounds and publicly-owned outdoor sporting areas effective January 1, 2015.

Rather than doing this, the city enacted a blanket ban in all parks, athletic fields and the Brock Trail, considering this a smoother process than erecting “No Smoking” signs at 20-metre perimeters in every park or playground.

Earle was a dogged member of a vocal minority opposed to this measure, and on Tuesday he reminded us of this fact by drawing attention to the bylaw that now puts it in place.

That means that if you happen to be wandering around a public place smoking, you are now eligible for a $310 fine,” said Earle.

He made the point, he said, in order to spare smokers the pain of returning home with a “piece of paper” as a “souvenir.”

You might call it Earle's last blast against the butt-out brigade.

It took Acting Mayor David LeSueur to remind his colleague, in a friendly way, that the ban does not in fact extend to all public places.

He might have also added that the fine is $305 rather than $310.

At any rate, smokers, you cannot say you were not warned.