Sam Austin, councillor for Dartmouth Centre, has succeeded in convincing a majority of its members to revisit the municipality’s ban on smoking in the municipality’s public places.
In a vote of 11 to five on Tuesday, council passed Austin’s motion directing municipal staff to create a report and a new draft of its nuisance by-law excluding tobacco from its ban.
However, municipal staff will continue following the direction that they were given on July 16, rolling out measures that would prohibit smoking and vaping of any substance — including cannabis — on all municipal property, except for designated areas.
John Traves, Halifax’s director of legal, insurance and risk management, told council on Tuesday evening that the rollout may change if council passes the first reading of the new draft by-law.
Staff said the earliest the report and draft by-law will be ready for council is Sept. 11.
The Halifax Regional Municipality announced earlier on Tuesday that its bylaw changes would come into affect on Oct. 1 — 16 days before the federal legalization of recreational cannabis comes into effect.
The municipality says that it’s an intentional decision, allowing people time to adjust to the changes before cannabis becomes legal.
Austin had initially voted in favour of an all-out smoking ban on municipal land during the July 16 council meeting, but told Global News he had since changed his mind.
“The big change for me, personally, was the realization that these designated smoking areas were going to make up a much bigger part of our approach than I had ever imagined,” Austin said.
Now that a few weeks have passed since the passing vote, Austin feels that approach “doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
“Why impose a smoking ban and then turn around and designate all sorts of spaces on those very same sidewalks where you’re allowed to smoke? It seems like a very bureaucratic response that’s not rooted in a lot of practicality,” Austin said.
WATCH: Dartmouth councillor wants tobacco excluded from smoking ban
The estimated annual cost of enforcing an all-out smoking ban and restrictions around cannabis cultivation is estimated at around $970,000 a year and could have a direct impact on the 2018-19 operating budget, according to the city staff report.
Costs include the need for an additional eight by-law compliance officers and modifications to existing signage.
The annual expense is anticipated to be partly offset by the collection of fine revenue.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.