Smoking bylaw passes
Full ban on smoking in restaurants starts in five years

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 06/99) - Despite a passionate last minute plea from a representative of city restaurateurs, the city has a new and tougher smoking bylaw.

"You are driving business away," Carlos Gonzales, owner of Our Place restaurant, told city council Sept. 30 before final reading of the bylaw.

"To us this is not a question of who wins and who loses, it's about our livelihood," observed Gonzales, who said he was speaking for five other city restaurants.

Gonzales said the downtown paving program has wiped out two and a half years of positive cash flow for his business and neither he nor other restaurateurs in town can afford the downturn in business, however temporary, that would result from the new bylaw.

His argument failed to sway council. The bylaw requires that from now until Dec. 31, 2001 half of the seating in restaurants, licensed dining rooms, clubs and private recreational facilities be non-smoking. From Dec. 31, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2004, 75 per cent of seating must be non-smoking. A total ban will take effect Jan. 1, 2005.

Gonzales said council was also discriminating against restaurants, since bars also serve food but remain unaffected by the bylaw.

A few hours after he made his plea, councillors Robert Slaven, Kevin O'Reilly, Blake Lyons and Ben McDonald out-voted Cheryl Best and Bob Brooks to give the bylaw final approval.

Best was out of town when the bylaw underwent some dramatic changes. After a shift in the balance of voting resulting from the resignation of Peggy Near and Best's absence, the committee made dramatic changes to the bylaw.

Those changes were later toned down to the present bylaw as part of a compromise promoted by Coun. Blake Lyons.

Best attempted to express her opinion of the political manoeuvring during the Thursday night meeting.

"Though I don't subscribe to conspiracy theories, it's strange that I'm on vacation and councillors Near and Ramsay are off --" she said before O'Reilly protested successfully she was out of order.