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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Student Smoking Concerns in Walkerton

Walkerton | by Robyn Garvey  

Residents in area of Walkerton District have concerns.

Brockton is trying to come up with a solution for a very difficult problem, but there doesn't appear to be an easy answer.

With school just days away, the residents of Fischer Dairy have made it very clear they no longer want their street to be used as the smoking hangout for Walkerton District Community School students.

Many residents have reached out to Councillors to express their anger and frustration over cigarette butts and garbage being left on their properties as well as trespassing by the students.

Councillor Steve Adams says some residents have even expressed safety concerns while others are reluctant to call police due to concerns of retaliation upon their property.

This street smoking problem arose over the last year after cannabis was legalized.

Changes were made to the Smoke Free Ontario Act that extended the "No Smoking on School Property" legislation to "No Smoking Within 20 meters of School Property".

Adams says the new legislation pushed the students from smoking in front of the school property onto the Fisher Dairy subdivision as well as Hinks street.

He calls this unacceptable saying residents should not have to put up with this.

Over the summer months, Brockton has been working with the School as well as the Tobacco Enforcement Officer in an attempt to brainstorm a solution.

Unfortunately, there is no good solution, as there is no ideal location to redirect students 20 meters from the school without infringing on residents, businesses or being in full site of a neighbouring elementary school and daycare.

Even so, Adams says Brockton can not give up saying something must be done.

Mayor Chris Peabody agrees, he says while the intention of the law is good, he suggests the 20 meter setback is Provincial overreach.

He says it is causing so many problems in residential areas that Brockton must find a better solution.

Brockton staff have been instructed to reach out to other municipalities who may be struggling with a similar dilemma in order to determine how they have tackled it.

Staff will also be seeking out legal advice regarding the creation of a bylaw that would crack down on student smokers conjugating along the street in residential areas.

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