Council rejects amendment to smoking bylaw
Council unanimously rejected an application at its meeting on July 16 to amend Airdrie’s smoking bylaw to allow for a Shisha establishment in the city.
Sunita Dave and Arshad Ali of Airdrie’s Shalimar Cuisine restaurant first brought the proposal before council on June 18.
At that time, council postponed a decision and requested staff provide more information on amending the smoking bylaw, which prohibits smoking in public places and was implemented as a result of a petition from the Smoke-Free Airdrie Coalition in 2004.
Council held a plebiscite on the smoking bylaw on the ballot during the 2004 municipal election.
A total of 5,228 votes were cast with 63 per cent in favour of passing the smoking bylaw.
Airdrie has been completely smoke free, excluding home businesses, since July 1, 2005.
The bylaw was put in place as a result of a petition, therefore, Airdrie Councillor Murray Buchanan said residents should review any possible changes before they are implemented.
“At a minimum, we would have to go back to the electorate to see if they would like to change it,” he said.
“At this point in time, I would suggest we leave the (non-smoking bylaw) in place as it is.”
Mayor Peter Brown said distinguishing between the type of smoking that should and should not be allowed would be difficult.
“Smoking is smoking is smoking,” he said. “I am definitely going to be supporting the staff recommendation (to maintain the status quo).”
Liz Down, who owns a business nearby the proposed Shisha establishment, located at 20002 Luxstone Blvd., raised concern about changes to the smoking bylaw during public question period, citing the potential for increased insurance costs and lower property values, as well as the potential for the use of tobacco and other drugs.
“How does one ensure what is being smoked is legal?” she asked.
Shisha is fruit-flavoured leaves burned using coal. The smoke is passed through an ornate water vessel and inhaled through a hose.
The traditional Middle Eastern practice is allowed in Calgary. However, Airdrie’s bylaw defines smoking as “including the carrying, holding or otherwise controlling of a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other lighted smoking equipment.”
Sharon Pollyck, manager of Airdrie’s legislative services and corporate communications, said the City’s smoking bylaw “is the most stringent in Alberta.”
During the July 16 meeting, Pollyck also presented a report issued by Alberta’s chief medical officer citing health concerns with respect to shisha smoking. As a result of the study, the Province is considering a provincial ban on Shisha smoking in lounges and bars.
The Province indicated a decision would be made by the end of June, but it has now been put off for several months, according to Pollyck.
City staff recommended council reject the request to amend Airdrie’s smoking bylaw.