CORNWALL – Cornwall has taken another step toward making the waterfront trail a smoke-free zone.
A majority of councillors voted Monday night to ask administration for a report on the next steps to ban smoking on the trail along the St. Lawrence River from Gray’s Creek to Power Dam Drive.
Based on the discussion around the council table, it appears that if a vote were held today a majority of council would support the new bylaw.
Coun. Todd Bennett says making the trail a smoke-free zone would help residents on either side of the college dealing with the fallout of St. Lawrence College going smoke-free. “This woman’s (neighbour to SLC) got younger kids and in the winter she’s picking butts out of the snow so her kids can play.”
“It’s just not a healthy situation,” Bennett added, while adding that it will be tough to enforce.
But councillors like Dean Hollingsworth and Claude McIntosh didn’t think it could be adequately enforced. McIntosh supported getting the report; Hollingsworth did not.
“I don’t think I want to be sending bylaw enforcement officers down the bike path, potentially by themselves, without support, trying to tell people to butt out,” Hollingsworth said.
Coun. Carilyne Hebert said the cigarette butts on the ground “drives me bananas,” while supporting the smoking ban along the waterfront. “I understand enforcing it is difficult. Putting up some signs will reduce it.”
Coun. Syd Gardiner supported it because he “lost an election over smoking. When I see somebody riding a bike, with a cigarette in his mouth, I wonder how healthy this guy is.”
The request for the waterfront trail came from the Great River Network eco group.
Smoking is allowed in Lamoureux Park except for a buffer around the children’s play area and the Cornwall Civic Complex.
Bylaw Division Manager Chris Rogers admits they don’t have the manpower to enforce it. “I don’t know of any municipality that has the person power to be enforcing all the bylaws. Certainly, the expectation is you enforce it and certainly as far as the bylaw division is concerned, yeah, it’s highly not.”
Rogers says it’s more about “sending a message” to the community that “this is unacceptable.”
The report will come back to a future council meeting.