With the calendar year coming to a close, the city is now looking at the possibility of tougher smoking bans, following a consultation with the public before-hand.
The public will be asked their thoughts, ideas and opinions on the matter from now until April 1, 2017.
If well-received, the smoking ban could expand to include banning cigarettes and e-cigarettes (also known as “vaping”) from restaurant patios, which some Regina businesses have already voluntarily done, as well as play-grounds, sports fields, fixed seats and bleachers in public venues, as well as any public gathering taking place on city property.
Mayor Michael Fougere said they are expecting to hear a wide range of thoughts and added the public deserves to have a say before any decision is made.
Fougere also added he believes the public would want to see stricter smoking bans.
“It’s fair to say that community standards are changing, people are expecting to see, and likely would want to see restrictions on smoking to the extent of that. I think we owe it to the public to ask them the question. What do you want to see in terms of our standards in Regina here?”
Saskatoon has had a similar ban, to the proposed one since 2004.
Fougere also said he believes they will receive lots of different ideas and opinions.
“You can start with the public, there will be lots of different opinions, aspects and attitudes that we’ll hear, and I think we’ll want to wrap that up into some kind of an approach to take. So in the broadest sense we are asking the public, what do you think about smoking and vaping in public?”
Fougere said that council themselves continues to be open for discussion into the matter.
Smoking bans were not the only topic discussed Monday night at City Hall; Souls Harbour Rescue Mission will also have a new home in the future.
Council unanimously passed a motion allowing Souls Harbour to construct a new building in the city’s North Central neighborhood at 1610 Angus Street.
Currently they are located on Halifax Street, in a building that is more than 100 years old.
With renovation costs on the building steadily rising, the move is something Souls Harbour is happy to be able to work towards.
However, there have been concerns that the operation could bring down property values, an idea that Mayor Michael Fougere quickly put to rest.
“They do great work and are cognizant of the area, and this is where their clients are. Imminent respect for what they are doing, there is no study that I know of that talks about the loss of property values that can quantify it. I’m not saying it isn’t real to those who say it is, but when we ask the administration, what is the kind of impact on this development in a neighborhood, is it deleterious to the neighborhood, does it hurt the area, I know of no place that has said, yes that happens.”
The new building will allow Souls Harbour to expand their homeless shelter and add a new day care, it will also add jobs as around 15 more people may be needed in the new facility.
Construction is set to begin next summer with the grand-opening set for 2018.
Some other notes from council Monday night included the proposal and unanimous approval of a new Tim Hortons on the corner of Arcola Avenue and University Park Drive.
The new Tim Hortons will only seat 16 people and will not include a drive-thru.
City Council will not meet now until the new year.