WHO conference, smoking on agenda

The upcoming World Health Organization’s conference on safe communities and instituting anti-smoking bylaws are two of the many items on the agenda when the Rainy River District Municipal Association meets Saturday at the Red Dog Inn here.
“First, we’re going to give an overview of the conference,” said Doug Anderson, chair of the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition and board member of the Canadian Safe Communities Foundation, who will be joined by conference co-ordinator Jeannette Cawston.
“Second, we’ll talk about the post-conference coalition and the direction we’ll take in the future,” he noted. “Can the safety coalition get bigger and stronger? We want their thoughts on that.
“The district has been extremely supportive from the start, and I’d like thank them for that,” added Anderson. “And I want to tell them, if we manage the conference, I’m sure there will be long-term benefits for the district in the years to come.”
The fifth-annual Canadian Safe Communities Conference also will be held here in conjunction with the WHO one, which is slated May 7-9.
Meanwhile, Dr. Pete Sarsfield, CEO and medical officer of health for the Northwestern Health Unit, will speak with Jennifer McKibbon on the push to ban smoking in enclosed public places.
Dr. Sarsfield said he’ll be pushing the same point he made last week at the Kenora Municipal District Association’s annual meeting in Pickle Lake.
“My stance is that this is not a business issue, it’s not a personal choice issue. It’s a health issue,” he said during a phone interview yesterday.
“As the medical officer of health, of course I don’t support anyone smoking,” he noted. “But in this case, I’m just asking for municipalities to stop smoking in public places, where people may have no choice but to inhale second-hand smoke.”
Dr. Sarsfield said he expects to hear comments similar to the ones in Pickle Lake, mainly revolving around the issue of how such a ban could affect businesses.
“The Pickle Lake meeting went well. It was a respectful exchange,” he remarked. “And believe me, there’s been district meetings in the past that have not been fun—due to mutual antagonism, of course.”
He said support for the ban at the KDMA meeting was fair, with four out of eight municipalities there giving him a positive reaction.
“But that was said in casual conversation,” he admitted. “During the presentation, no one showed support.
“I find that discouraging, too. If people are behind it and they want this to work, speak out,” Dr. Sarsfield stressed, adding that getting Rainy River District behind him would be crucial to their campaign.
District municipal reps also will here a presentation tomorrow on the Northwest Ontario Recycle Association by former co-ordinator Keith Sveinson.
Also scheduled to speak are NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton,
Geoff Gillon (Rainy River Future Development Corp.), and Alanna Barr and Kevin Queen (Rainycrest Home for the Aged).,
Reg Lake (Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing), Lee Collins (Hydro One), and Jim Green (807 Northwest Network) round out the scheduled speakers.
Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m., with welcoming remarks at 9 by Fort Frances Mayor Glenn Witherspoon. The meeting will adjourn at 5 p.m., followed by cocktail hour and a banquet.