Rebellion promised if smoking ban enforced at Wreck Beach

Wreck Beach supporters warned Metro Vancouver Wednesday there would be a “total rebellion” if the Vancouver beach is included in a partial no-smoking ban on all parks in the regional district.

But the regional district’s parks committee refused to exempt the beach from the ban, which would see smoking prohibited as of Jan. 1 in all the region’s parks, beaches, playgrounds, shelters and campsites, except for designated areas.

Cigarette butt in the sand

Cigarette butt in the sand

Those locations still have to be determined, but would be in zones “where there is little risk of second-hand smoke exposure to others, smoking litter is contained and there is no risk of fire starts,” says a staff report on the issue.

The committee’s decision requires final approval from the regional district board.

Judy Williams of the Wreck Beach Preservation Society urged the committee to impose a voluntary smoking ban, saying an official one would be too hard to enforce, and told the directors to come down for a visit to experience the uniqueness of Wreck Beach. The beach is part of Pacific Spirit Park, which is a regional park.

Wreck Beach is a very special place; it’s about having a place where one can be free with nature,” she said. “You’re going to have a total rebellion on your hands.”

Three directors – Langley City Coun. Gayle Martin, Electoral A director Maria Harris, and Bowen Island Coun. Peter Frinton – opposed the ban.

Frinton argued that while people shouldn’t be smoking in congested areas, it is wrong to impose a blanket ban on trails and other wide open spaces.

Gudrun Jensen, operations services division manager, said park patrollers would take a “common-sense approach” to enforcing the policy, but noted Wreck Beach would be one of the most difficult and contentious beaches when it comes to the smoking bylaw.

Vancouver Coun. Tim Stevenson warned an overall smoking ban is inevitable.

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