Wider area looked at for smoke-free Cornwall waterfront; enforcement through ‘peer pressure’

Karen Cooper and Patricia O'Hara speak to Cornwall City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019 about making a section of the waterfront trail smoke-free. Council is looking at casting a wider net, making its entire trail network and Lamoureux Park a no-smoking zone. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Cornwall is looking to cast a wider net to have people butt out along the waterfront.

It’s looking at not only making the requested section of the waterfront trail smoke-free, but the entire trail network from Gray’s Creek to Guindon Park and all of Lamoureux Park.

City council asked for a staff report on making it happen after hearing from smoke-free proponents Patricia O’Hara and Karen Cooper from the Great River Network.

With a jar of cigarette butts in front of them at the delegation table, O’Hara and Cooper made their pitch saying it’s not a new idea as the practice is already in place in Brockville, Hamilton and Niagara.

According to the Great River Network, cigarette butts are the number one item found along the shoreline and that one butt can pollute 500 liters of water.

Many councillors are on board.

“I think there’s credibility that they (people) stop smoking when people learn about (how it affects) fish habitat,” Coun. Glen Grant said.

Like Grant, Coun. Todd Bennett said he was supportive of the smoking restrictions. He said cigarettes butts thrown in the snowbanks “stick out like a sore thumb.”

As for enforcing the law if it’s passed, council believes it won’t be bylaw officers but social conscience that will lead to enforcement.

Coun. Elaine MacDonald said “peer pressure” from others would make it “too embarrassing to break the rules.” When talking about Guindon Park, MacDonald was cautionary saying “let’s not be too invasive” whether the law would apply to people camping along the waterfront.

“Nobody is going to be parading through the park looking for people smoking,” Recreation General Manager Mark Boileau told council.

In addition to the impending smoke-free waterfront trail and law and the required signage, council also has to option to put ashtrays out in strategic areas along the trail.

The staff report and bylaw will be coming back to council at a future meeting.

Nearly three out of every 10 people in Cornwall smoke, according to the Great River Network.

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