There have been 86 fires since April 1, 2019. (File photo)

Lake Country councillors want stricter regulations, more signage on public smoking

In 2019, 21 fires in Vernon to Penticton zone have been human caused, some linked to cigarette butts

“We still haven’t taken steps to inform people not to smoke in our public areas,” Lake Country Coun. Blair Ireland said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “It’s threatening our community and we need to do something about it.”

Sanitary measures, respect for neighbours and fire safety are the purposes driving council’s wish for proper non-smoking signage.

“I definitely do take a number of complaints about the lack of signage,” Coun. Todd McKenzie said, “and the lack of respect from people that are sitting on the beaches beside people and think nothing of blowing smoke in little kids’ faces and so on.

“I do agree there needs to be better signage there.”

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Coun. Ireland said residents would like to be able to tell people not to smoke, but there’s nothing in the bylaws or signage that can back them up.

The district applied for proper signage once before, said Coun. Ireland and Mayor James Baker, but did not receive them.

“When there’s no signage, it makes it impossible for the resident to have any teeth to do anything,” Coun. Ireland said.

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Fire Chief Steve Windsor reminds residents that smoking isn’t permitted in any parks, regardless of signage or lack thereof. He said this isn’t just a Lake Country stipulation, every municipality through the Okanagan can attribute wildfires caused by cigarettes.

“Historically, we’ve seen some pretty big fires caused by smoking,” he said.

Since April 1, 2019, there have been 84 wildfires in the Kamloops fire region, according to BC Wildfire.

As it stands, 82 per cent of those fires have been human caused, according to BC Wildfire, noting the numbers continue to fluctuate due to ongoing investigations.

Further, in the Vernon to Penticton zone, there have been a total of 26 fires since April 1, 2019 and 21 of those are believed to be human caused.

“We can do better,” Baker said.


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