Halifax is now accepting requests for designated smoking areas but it’s left some businesses scrambling with less than a week before the bylaw officially takes effect.
With cannabis legalization set for Oct. 17, Halifax Regional Council has voted to amend an existing bylaw to prohibit smoking of any kind on municipal property, except in specially designated areas.
“Awareness in the industry that [restaurants] actually need to go and apply for one is pretty much nil,” said Luc Erjavec, vice-president of Restaurants Canada, Atlantic Canada.
“Their frustration is the lack of information.”
Todd Abbass, the owner of Stayner’s Wharf restaurant, was unaware he needed to apply until Tuesday.
“I’m a little bit confused about how all this is going to play out,” he said.
But applications for a designated area are already coming in. In an email, the municipality confirmed they have already received 50 inquiries and are now working to assess them.
Any request that is accepted must adhere to the province’s Smoke-free Places Act, which prohibits smoking within four metres of windows, air vents or entrances to places of employment and cannot be within nine metres of public trails or 20 metres of playgrounds.
Abbass says he still has more questions than answers, such as if each designated area will include a receptacle to put out butts, and who will pay for that.
“Do we pay for that?” he asked.
“Because you walk down any street in the city, there’s butts everywhere and they’re not compostable.”
While there is still confusion and frustration among some restaurants, Erjavec says he is at least glad they are now being included in the process.
“Originally, the city said they would go ahead and they would designate smoking areas. Our industry’s concern was they may designate one here while a competitor wouldn’t get one,” he said.
As for smokers in search of a designated area, the municipality is creating a map to show all spots within HRM, but it is not available yet. Online, it states the map is coming soon and will be available before Oct. 15.
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