For the third time, the smoking bylaw vote has been deferred by Timmins city council. The majority agreed to push it back again, this time for a legal opinion. The vote was originally deferred as questions over enforcement and how the Smoke Free Ontario Act would play into the bylaw lingered.

However, City Clerk Steph Palmateer cleared up those questions last night, saying council can define a public place for the purpose of the bylaw. Which means the sidewalk can be called a public place, so the bylaw can be enforced there.

Another important aspect Palmateer cleared up is contained within the Smoke Free Ontario Act. He says if there is a conflict, the provision that is more restrictive of smoking prevails. That essentially means the local bylaw would overtake the provincial act.

That information still wasn’t enough for the majority of council however. Councillor Rick Dubeau raised concerns, saying the city should have a legal opinion from a municipal lawyer. He says that’s because the entire community could become smoke free the way the bylaw is outlined. He says it will essentially put smokers out onto the streets, which doesn’t make any sense.

In the end, the majority of council, including Mayor Steve Black, agreed. And so, council is now sending out for both a legal opinion and a letter from the Ministry. Black says that will help to put the issue to bed, once and for all.

This issue was originally brought up to council in late June by the Porcupine Health Unit, who was looking to discourage the habit by forcing smokers 9 metres away from the entrance to a business, as opposed to the current three metres.

Previous stories:

Health unit pushing for smokers to be 9 metres away from a building’s entrance, as opposed to 3

Smoking bylaw vote deferred for the second time as new information comes to light