Signs of the times: E-cigs not welcome in Coquitlam facilities

Anyone looking to light up an e-cigarette or a personal vaporizer in a civic building or outdoor pool area in Coquitlam will be asked to take it outside.

Signs are expected to go up in the coming weeks prohibiting the devices, which simulate smoking but, unlike traditional cigarettes, only emit vapours, not smoke.

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The popularity of the products has outpaced government regulation and rules about where a person can “vape” are still unclear.

But Coquitlam Coun. Bonita Zarrillo put forward a motion, which was unanimously supported by council, prohibiting the use of the devices in civic buildings and outdoor pools. She said the issue was first brought to her attention when she received a letter from a resident who saw someone using an e-cigarette in the changing room at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex.

“I would like to see what we can do with regard to limiting vaping, specifically in recreation facilities,” she said. “This is something that shouldn’t be going on at the pool.”But aside from putting up signs and asking people to vape outside of civic buildings, there is little the city can do when it comes to enforcement.

Raul Allueva, the general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said there is no legal framework to implement fines and people could challenge the city’s rules.

“Many of the people that do these kinds of things know their rights and they bring that to our attention,” he said. He later added, “We always want to make sure that we are not straying into an area of law that could be challenged.”

But the city does have rights as the property owner and Allueva told The Tri-City News the signs will be installed in the next few weeks, and staff will monitor compliance levels and report back to council in the future.

Council considered the possibility of putting up signs in public parks but decided to wait and see how the initiatives worked at outdoor pools and civic buildings before adding more restrictions.

The city of Port Coquitlam is currently reviewing its smoking bylaw, which dates back to 2002. PoCo communications manager Pardeep Purewal said e-cigarettes and personal vaporizers will be discussed in a report to council, which is expected in the fall.

The city of Port Moody is not currently considering a ban on e-cigarettes.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

@gmckennaTC

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