For a number of years now, City of Guelph Staff have either been misinformed and/or have avoided dealing with smoking in Guelph particularly at Guelph Central Station Transit Terminal. For a number of years now, City Staff have stated that the Smoke-Free Ontario Act is the top smoking law and that no local bylaw is required. They always refer people who complain about smoking to contact the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit as they are the ones who enforce the Act.
The fact is, the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit only carries out inspections and enforces the Act on a complaint basis. Unlike some other Health Units in Ontario, our local Health Unit neither has the resources or time to go out on a daily basis to enforce the Act at locations such as the bus terminal, outside movie theatres or outside Sleeman Centre unless someone lodges a complaint. How inefficient.
While City Staff state that they can’t do anything, this is completely false. According to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act itself, Local bylaws that are more stringent than the Smoke-Free Ontario Act will take precedent. The City of Guelph’s former Smoking Bylaw was only superseded by the Act as it was less stringent.
One of the hot spots for smoking has been Guelph Central Station.
Black spots where people sit and spit tar onto the ground, cigarette butts everywhere, people smoking while standing under the canopy and within the windscreen/shelter (which is a Designated No Smoking zone under the SFO Act) and people standing smoking beside the bus when, under the Act, is considered a work environment and a public facility.
So what is the answer to the problem? A city-wide No Smoking Bylaw would be time consuming to draw up but a no-smoking bylaw specifically targeted towards Transit could be done quickly. As I noted above, the City of Guelph has the right to create No-Smoking Bylaws that are more stringent than the Act as noted below
Conflict with other legislation
12. If there is conflict between sections 9 and 10 of this Act and a provision of another Act, a regulation or a municipal by-law that deals with smoking, the provision that is more restrictive of smoking prevails, subject to subsection 13 (3). 1994, c. 10, s. 12.
There are several Transit systems within Ontario that have a local ‘No Smoking’ bylaw and/or regulations that include transit property and vehicles or have Transit specific bylaws and/or regulations that include no-smoking. These all take precedent over and/or compliment the Smoke-Free Ontario Act as they are more stringent than the Act itself.
A small sampling of some Transit No Smoking Bylaws and Regulations is below. Some of these are enclosed within larger bylaws specific to Transit Users, while others are Transit only in regards to smoking.
(a) City of Toronto:
Bylaw 1, Section 3.32 No person shall smoke in or on TTC property or carry a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, other tobacco product, or any other lighted smoking equipment or material while in or on TTC property.
The Toronto Transit Commission is the quick, convenient and safe way to get around Toronto. The subway system is linked with buses and streetcars to get you around Toronto on one fare, provided it’s a one-way trip with no stopovers. You can travel on the TTC every day.
(b) City of Brampton:
Effective May 2014 the Transit By-law #82-2008 was amended by By-law #138-2014.
Smoking is prohibited on Brampton Transit buses, at terminals or inside any on-street bus shelters. The restriction applies to traditional cigarettes (all forms of lit tobacco products) and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes and other similar type devices). It applies to all City staff and members of the public and includes all transit terminal property, platforms and shelters, whether leased or owned…
(c) Region of Waterloo:
(2) Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, an activity that obstructs, prevents or hinders the rights of others to use and enjoy the Designated Premises or which obstructs, prevents or hinders the operations of the Region or any of its employees, agents or contractors includes, but is not limited to: (a) smoking tobacco or holding lit tobacco in any elevator or escalator, in any service line, public area or area designated as a “No Smoking” or “Smoke Free” area;
(d) City of Hamilton:
By-law No. 16-111: Transit Vehicles and Transit Stations (3) No person on a transit vehicle or in a transit station shall: (a) smoke a cigarette or e-cigarette, or ignite a cigarette, cigarette lighter or match; or
Hamilton, ON – July 28, 2016 – Hamilton City Council recently passed a new by-law that will help to enhance the experience of riders on the Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) and reduce the inappropriate use of the transit system in Hamilton.
(e) City of Thunder Bay:
Article 8 TRANSIT 926.8.1 Smoking – prohibited – vehicles – buildings No person shall smoke: (a) in any bus; (b) in any inspection, service or other vehicle of the Corporation operated as part of, or in support of, such system; or 926.6.1 SMOKING – REGULATION 926.8.1 MAY 2003 926.6 THUNDER BAY (c) in any passenger waiting room or shelter forming part of such system.
926.11.2 Smoking areas – outside – distance from entrance Designate smoking areas outside City-owned facilities under the jurisdiction of the Facility Enterprises, Community Recreation and Parks Divisions and only the facilities accessible to the public shall not be closer than three metres to the entrance of these facilities
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Enforcement of the above bylaws and regulations varies system to system; however, City Bylaw Officers have full rights to enforce the those bylaws.
It should also be noted that under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act there are some interesting definitions:
· “enclosed public place” means,
(a) the inside of any place, building or structure or vehicle or conveyance or a part of any of them,
(i) that is covered by a roof, and
(ii) to which the public is ordinarily invited or permitted access, either expressly or by implication, whether or not a fee is charged for entry, or
(b) a prescribed place; (“lieu public clos”)
· “enclosed workplace” means,
(a) (a) the inside of any place, building or structure or vehicle or conveyance or a part of any of them,
(b) (i) that is covered by a roof,
(c) (ii) that employees work in or frequent during the course of their employment whether or not they are acting in the course of their employment at the time, and
(d) (iii) that is not primarily a private dwelling, or
(e) (b) a prescribed place; (“lieu de travail clos”)
· Update in 2017, an additional definition: “the inside of a building, structure or vehicle that an employee works in or frequents during the course of their employment whether or not they are acting in the course of the employment at the time”
This would mean City Buses are considered both a “Public Place” and a “Workplace”. For example, a local bylaw in Thunder Bay (), determined the distance away from these type of vehicles as that is not covered under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.
On Grand River Transit in Kitchener-Waterloo & Cambridge, they have designated smoking areas where transit users and drivers can light up.
If Guelph were to have a Transit No-Smoking Bylaw, City of Guelph Bylaw officers would be in charge of enforcing it along with all the other bylaws. A simple, quick (and cheap) way to enforce this would be having Bylaw do quick 10-15 minute walks and spot checks of Guelph Central Station. Designated areas for smoking could be created and better signage could be posted as well as educating Transit Riders and Employees of the Bylaw and Designated Smoking areas.
Guelph is one of very few Ontario municipalities that does not have a Smoking Bylaw that goes above and beyond the Smoke Free Ontario Act. Within Public Transit realm, GO Transit, Toronto Transit Commission, MiWay, Grand River Transit, Thunder Bay Transit and York Region Transit have all adopted legislation/by-laws that restrict smoking on transit property. In addition to the Region of Peel, there are also over 70 municipalities in Ontario that regulate outdoor smoking.
What about asking the Government to include Transit Facilities under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act? An inquiry with the province yielded the following: while there has been some correspondence over the years regarding enhancing the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, it was noted that Municipalities still have the right to create “Smoking Bylaws” but they must be more stringent than the Act itself and can cover areas not covered under the Act.
While the province has recently done some work to update smoking laws within Ontario (and some specific to the upcoming marijuana laws) there is/was no updates to cover transit facilities other than what is already covered under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.
It is time to create and implement a Transit No Smoking bylaw for Guelph.
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act would still be the top law and a Transit Smoking Bylaw would compliment the Act and is allowed.
The proof is there that it can and has be done. It is time for this city to stop avoiding the issue and address this issue.