Alberton council nixes smoking bylaw

Alberton council voted against a proposed smoking bylaw at its last regular meeting even after health promoter Jennifer McKibbon presented 73 post cards from township residents (out of a possible 323) who agree with the bylaw.
Coun. Bill Morrison was the most outspoken dissenter.
“It would have been better to have a choice [on the post cards]. I’m thinking 79 percent don’t want it,” he remarked, adding that people he talked to about the campaign said they wanted a choice.
Coun. Morrison also said he talked to Chamber of Commerce presidents in Ottawa, Toronto, and Winnipeg, who confirmed that businesses suffer when municipalities pass bylaws banning smoking.
Alberton Reeve John Milling wanted council to endorse the bylaw. “We don’t have any restaurants or bars,” he said. “If we pass this bylaw, nothing’s written in stone.”
But Couns. Morrison, Doug Mitchell, and Lisa Allan voted against the bylaw banning smoking in all public places while Coun. Wayne McKay voted in favour it.
McKibbon said Alberton was the last township to receive post cards from the Northwestern Health Unit.
“At the beginning of the year, we set priorities,” she said. “I wouldn’t expect the pressure to let up.”
The health unit now is asking concerned residents to phone, e-mail, and write their councils to voice support of such a bylaw in their municipality.
In related news, Peter McQuaker, co-owner of the Village Variety in Emo, presented a letter from his wife, Marlene, at Emo’s council meeting last Thursday night.
The letter, which also appears in today’s Fort Frances Times, stated her displeasure with the possibility of the bylaw.
Councillors supported her case. “It’s a well-written letter,” said Coun. Gary Judson. “I think [the bylaw] is ludicrous. I don’t think we have the right to dictate.”
Coun. Ken Fisher also showed his support for local businesses. “It’s fine for somebody who doesn’t have a business to want this.”
Emo council has not voted on the bylaw yet, but plans to comply with Dr. Peter Sarsfield’s request to make a decision by May 31.