Article by Denis Langlois, Owen Sound Sun Times
South Bruce Peninsula wants to stomp out all smoking at its municipal beaches and parks, including on Sauble Beach.
Council has endorsed a staff recommendation to ban people from smoking cigarettes or marijuana or vaping within those municipally owned areas.
The town is also planning to beef up its bylaw enforcement at Sauble Beach this summer to ensure people follow the new and existing rules.
“Until now, there’s been no smoking allowed within 20 metres of playground equipment, but that was the only restriction we had at the beach and it was rarely enforced by the health unit,” Mayor Janice Jackson said Monday in an interview.
“Now, with the cannabis legislation, we had the ability to create and pass our own bylaw prohibiting smoking of any sort. So, to us, it was an all-or-nothing bylaw.”
Town staff advised council that it would be difficult to enforce a cannabis-only ban since bylaw officers would have to be able to legally verify that the substance being consumed is marijuana and not tobacco. The officers wouldn’t be able to confiscate the product, CAO Brad McRoberts said in a report to council, and odour alone may not be sufficient grounds for laying a charge.
“For the ease of enforcing it, we really felt the need to ban all smoking on beaches and parks,” Jackson said.
Bill 36, which included the legal framework for recreational cannabis use and sales and updated the province’s Smoke-Free Ontario Act, received royal assent on Oct. 17.
The new act includes a ban on smoking tobacco or cannabis within a certain radius of playgrounds or enclosed public places, but is silent on smoking on beaches.
The Grey Bruce Health Unit’s tobacco enforcement officers are designated to enforce the Smoke-Free Ontario Act rules, but a staff report to council says the agency employs only two such officers for all of Grey-Bruce.
The act allows municipalities to pass bylaws with stricter rules for smoking cannabis or tobacco, but the town or city must enforce those restrictions themselves.