The municipality’s new smoking bylaw is officially in effect, but as of 4 p.m. Monday, only nine designated smoking areas show up on HRM’s online map.
All nine locations are at bus terminals and not a single one is on the peninsula. It’s something that is frustrating and confusing for smokers.
“If you’re going to put zero designated areas in the city, that sort of traps people,” said one man downtown.
A woman downtown found a hidden corner away from people to vape in the afternoon.
“You feel like you’re breaking the law just trying to have a smoke,” she said.
Coun. Matt Whitman voted against the bylaw amendment from the beginning and said Monday morning that the rollout was poorly done.
“I’m sorry to folks, especially cigarette smokers, who are smoking something that’s always been legal,” he said.
But HRM spokesperson Brendan Elliott said the rollout has been successful and that there is a learning curve.
“Today is certainly the first day, but it’s not a deadline of any kind,” he said. He defended the lack of downtown designated areas by saying they want to get things right.
“What we’re trying to do is actually find places that are actually in accordance with the provincial legislation.”
That legislation prohibits smoking within four metres of any business door, window or vent. Elliott said in the past the rules were not always followed. Until more designated spots are marked Elliott said compliance officers will not be issuing tickets.
WATCH: Halifax smoking bylaw takes effect next week but still no designated smoking areas in place
“It’s about education, it’s about saying here’s why you can’t smoke here,” he said. Officers will be handing out information cards about the new bylaw that include a link to the online map, which Elliott encourages smokers to check regularly.
“Until we have places for them to smoke, we’re not going to tell them to put their cigarettes out. We just want them to be respectful for the people around them.”
Designated areas will be continuously added and amended as needed and Elliott said they are expecting to have at least 30 spots by the end of the week.