Council preview: public smoking ban becoming a priority

Public smoking, Gyro Bandshell and visitor centre featured on Penticton city council’s next agenda

Penticton city council will be hearing about a proposal to fence the Gyro Park Bandshell at their June 20 meeting, as well as plans to start issuing fine to people who smoke on the beach. Submitted photo

It’s time to start butting out on Penticton beaches and walking areas.

Bylaw Services is reporting to Penticton city council that, after an educational period for smokers, they are going to start warning tickets at parks and beaches from July 4 to 18, and then $100 fines from July 18 on.

The bylaw banning smoking in public municipal open spaces has been in place since 2013, but though signs have been posted, little has been done in terms of enforcement and public education, with bylaw officers giving verbal warnings when they saw an infraction.

But this year, while doing a beach cleanup in May, the First Coyote Girl Guides found 658 cigarette butts around the Skaha Park beaches and pointed out, both in the media and to the city council, that this was a problem the city should be dealing with more effectively.

More: A girl guide cleanup reveals 658 cigarette butts

“Enforcing this bylaw has been challenging since typically the smoker is not seen by the time the bylaw officer attends the location,” wrote Tina Siebert, bylaw services supervisor.

Visitor Centre needs a home

Penticton City Council will also be hearing from Travel Penticton at their June 20 meeting, with a proposal to get them into a new visitor centre by fall this year.

The visitor centre has been operating from temporary buildings in the corner of the South Okanagan Events Centre parking lot since construction began on the new Cascade Casino last year, forcing them to vacate the premises they formerly shared with the B.C. Wine Information Centre and VQA Wine Store.

“The days are numbered and Gateway Casinos will require the visitor centre to vacate by the end of summer 2017,” according to Travel Penticton’s report to council. “It is imperative Travel Penticton secure a permanent and visible building and location for the VC and Travel Penticton administration offices immediately.”

Proposal to fence Gyro stage

Facilities manager Bregje Kozak is bringing a request to council to install a fence on the Gyro Bandshell stage to deter vandalism.

According to Kozak’s report, the bandshell stage has been subject to various types of vandalism and activities over the past few years that are inconsistent with its intended use as a community stage, creating a challenge in ensuring a clean and safe facility for events.

“In summer of 2016, facilities maintenance staff alone spent up to eight hours per week trying to keep the bandshell in an acceptable condition and in many cases had to be called out on standby to deal with last minute cleaning requirements prior to weekend event bookings,” wrote Kozak.

The facilities report recommends installing the fence across the front of the bandshell stage to protect in from trespassing and undesirable activities, which could be easily removed to accommodate booked events.

Council meets on June 20, starting at 1 p.m. in chambers at city hall.