Halifax spending thousands of dollars on smoking receptacles while hundreds remain in storage
Published Wednesday, April 10, 2019 10:51PM ADT
Last Updated Thursday, April 11, 2019 7:48AM ADT
Nearly six months into Halifax's controversial and sweeping smoking bylaw, there are questions about its cost and effectiveness.
Hundreds of smoking receptacles remain locked away in storage, and the city is now preparing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to tidy up and maintain the ones that have been installed.
Smokers in the Halifax Regional Municipality can only legally light up in designated smoking areas, under bylaw N-300, which underwent significant amendments last Oct 15.
Changes introduced then effectively banned smoking anywhere in public in HRM -- except for in the designated areas, which contain smoking receptacles.
Six months later, nearly 100 designated spots have been set up, with the majority clustered in the downtown cores on both sides of the harbour.
About 500 other smoking receptacles remain in storage.
The new bylaw has led to some unusual situations: smokers in Timberlea might be relieved to know there’s a designated smoking area in their community -- but only one - and they have to go to the Park and Ride to find it.
The situation has been troublesome for smokers like Sherri Barrett, who's trying to obey the law where she can.
“I look for one, but there's not too many in Dartmouth,” Barrett said. “Where I live on Windmill Road, there's not many around the bus terminals.”
Just this week, the city issued a public tender, seeking a contractor to service and empty the receptacles.
About $60,000 has been set aside in the upcoming budget.
“Up until now, we've been mostly doing the cleanup and maintenance ourselves,” said city spokesman Brendan Elliott. “But we're finding it's a large workload for us to also have to be maintaining that, along with the other duties they had before the smoking bylaw came into effect.”
Then, there's enforcement. Only three tickets have been issued by police so far and none by bylaw officers. However, the city did say last fall that education – not enforcement – would be the emphasis in the early stages of the bylaw.
At least one councillor says the whole initiative has been an exercise in wasting money.
“I think we budgeted $3 million for enforcement,” Halifax Regional Coun. Matt Whitman said. “I haven't seen it. We'll never re-coup the cost of setting this up. I don't know any municipality anywhere that's followed our lead on how we're regulating smoking.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.