City of Edmonton flip-flops on Whyte Avenue ashtrays

Will Edmonton smoking bylaw changes mean more litter?
WATCH ABOVE: (From October 2018) New bylaw rules are meant to clear the air when it comes to all forms of smoking. But will the changes lead to more litter on streets and sidewalks in Edmonton? Vinesh Pratap takes a look.

The City of Edmonton is going to reinstall ashtrays along Whyte Avenue less than nine months after removing them.

In October 2018, the smoking bylaw was changed to increase the distance between doors and windows and where smoking is allowed.

Previously, people had to smoke five metres away from entrances. That was increased to 10 metres.

READ MORE: Edmonton settles on 10-metre buffer zone for smoking, cannabis use around entrances

The change made nearly all areas of a busy stretch on Whyte Avenue off-limits for smokers, so most ashtrays along there were removed.

In a report to city councillors, administration wrote that the decision “was made so as not to promote smoking or add to any confusion about the bylaw setback distance.”

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According to those in the area, that led to an increase in cigarette butts lining the road.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in litter, from basically never seeing any cigarette litter on the grounds — or very very little… [and now] we see a huge amount of litter,” said Cherie Klassen, executive director of the Old Strathcona Business Association.

On Wednesday, Klassen told the community and public services committee that the increase was a direct result of the removal of the ashtrays.

READ MORE: Ashtrays being redistributed to align with Edmonton’s 10-metre no-smoking zone

“As soon as you remove a litter receptacle, human nature isn’t going to change just because the receptacle isn’t there anymore,” she explained.

“So I think it was pretty expected that that would happen.”

After hearing from the Old Strathcona Business Association, Councillor Michael Walters brought forward a motion to bring back the ashtrays as soon as possible.

City administration said that would likely happen before the end of July.

Watch below: (From July 2018) Edmonton Councillor Michael Walters explains why council switched gears on public consumption rules.

Edmonton councillor explains smoking bylaw changes
Edmonton councillor explains smoking bylaw changes