County should eliminate bylaw exemptions
Tue 11 Feb 2003
Dufferin County council should check with its colleagues in Collingwood before deciding how to respond to possible legal action against the county's new smoking bylaw (Business owners challenge county's smoking bylaw, Jan. 16).
In a smoke-free bylaw very similar to Dufferin County's, the Town of Collingwood recently gave an exemption to the local Canadian Legion to allow smoking in its premises.
Local bar and restaurant owners threatened a legal challenge, just as owners in Dufferin County are doing.
After taking extensive legal advice, Collingwood councillors concluded that owners there would probably win their challenge, as council did not have the authority to exempt a single premises like the Legion. Collingwood's bylaw was accordingly amended to get rid of this exemption.
Dufferin County council should probably do the same to avoid further problems. While we all greatly respect the veteran members of the Legion, it must be said that the Legion's own staff have stated publicly that Legion membership is now open to anyone. In other words, the Legion is no longer the private club it was years ago.
Apart from this single exemption and the enclosed smoking room still allowed in the bingo hall, Dufferin County did a great job protecting workers and patrons alike from the dangers of second-hand smoke.
Council can avoid endangering this excellent work by eliminating the Legion exemption forthwith.
Michael Perley, director, Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco