A month and a half after the Capital Regional District amended the Clean Air Bylaw to fine smokers $100, no fines have been issued.
Murray Fife, a medical health officer with Island Health, said this is because of their approach.
“We do progressive enforcement, which means you start with trying to achieve voluntary compliance by educating people and having conversations with them. Then if needed you can do a verbal warning or a written warning,” he said.
Only then, if someone didn’t comply, would they be fined the $100 fee.
“Those preliminary steps have been successful, and there has not been a need to actually issue a fine or a ticket up to this point,” Fyfe said.
Since Oct. 1, the Clean Air Bylaw expanded from smoking tobacco to include vaping and marijuana, ahead of legalization that month. No substance can be smoked or vaped in parks, at the beach or playgrounds or within seven metres of public doorways, air intakes, windows or bus stops.
There have been 137 interactions with the enforcement officers and smokers since the beginning of October, 121 of which were verbal warnings and 28 received written warnings — but no fines have been issued.
Fyfe said the smokers approached by enforcement officers were often simply unaware of the bylaw, especially with its recent changes.
“People are often surprised they were maybe breaking a bylaw,” he said, adding educating them about it is often all that’s needed.
He said the 137 interactions are equally distributed across all of the CRD municipalities, and don’t tend to happen in a particular neighbourhood.
Enforcement officers will speak with people who they see as they go through town or when they receive complaints. They didn’t receive any complaints about cannabis on Oct. 17 or since, Fyfe said.
“Most of the complaints that come to us are situations where someone is concerned about being exposed to secondhand smoke involved tobacco or vaping. There are some issues that come up related to marijuana, but most of them are tobacco-related,” he said.