COLUMN: Smoke Free Ottawa

First off this week, I want to send my apologies to the residents of Munster and the Munster Community Association for my inability to attend the annual Munster Winter Carnival.  I had planned to be in attendance and officially launch the winter carnival but was, unfortunately, knocked out of commission with an illness for the better part of the weekend.  Again, I’m sorry I could not make it and I very much look forward to many winter carnivals in Munster in the years to come.

Smoke Free Ottawa

Last week, the City of Ottawa’s Board of Health approved the renewed Smoke Free Ottawa Strategy following an extensive public consultation process.  Since the report was released a couple of weeks ago, I have received little to no feedback on the issue.  If you are unaware of this new smoke free strategy, I’ll first take a second to bring you up to speed.

The Smoke Free Ottawa policy came into effect on August 1, 2001.  This policy made it illegal to smoke inside bars and restaurants, bingo halls, bowling alleys, taxis, common areas of residential buildings and so on.  This new set of bylaws passed unanimously by City Council in 2001.  The impact then was not as negative as many felt it would be and shortly afterward, the Smoke Free Ontario Act followed the footsteps of Ottawa and implemented a similar law Province-wide.  Ten years later, the issue came before Council again last summer with the notion that the City should further ban smoking in all public spaces, including parks, beaches, and patios.  This would follow in the footsteps of several other cities including Kingston, Vancouver, and New York.  The issue will come to Council on February 22.

The minimal feedback I have received on this issue has been in full support with the one email here and there addressed to all Councillors opposing it.  Flash back 11 years ago and the opposition was widespread and quite heated at times.  I guess I’m left trying to figure out what has changed between then and now.  Is it true that the overwhelming majority of residents across this City agree that smoking should not be permitted on beaches, sports fields, and restaurant patios?  Is this such a slam dunk that I shouldn’t even bother asking?  Maybe that is the case but I want to hear from you on this one.  Personally, I do not mind a smoking ban on sports fields where our kids are playing or in parks and beaches for that matter.  On the patios, though, is it our business to tell them what they should do?  Smoking is already prohibited on 50% of all patios in Ottawa because they are covered patios.  Another 30 patios are voluntarily smoke-free so do we really need to go the extra step and tell the rest to butt out as well?  From what I can tell, a lot of people say yes but what do you think?  Please take a few seconds out of your day and fire off an email to Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca and tell me your thoughts.  I read each and every one the second I receive it.  You can also call my office at 613-580-2491.  For more information on the new Smoke Free Ottawa bylaws, please visit www.ottawa.ca.  I look forward to your comments and for the few of you who have already sent me a message on the subject, thank you.

Manotick Co-op Nursery School Open House

Learning.  Playing.  Discovering.  Imagining.  The Manotick and Riverside South Cooperative Nursery School will be holding their Annual Open House on Tuesday February 21 from 5pm-7pm.  You and your child are invited to come and look around the classroom, meet some of the teachers and ask questions.  The Open House will be held at the Manotick location, 5572 Doctor Leach Drive, in the Manotick Arena.  Visit our websites www.manoticknurseryschool.ca or www.riversidesouthnurseryschool.ca to find out more about the school.