Smokers’ days are numbered in Gunnedah’s CBD as council moves to widen proposed smoke-free zones.
Council invited public feedback last year on a smoke-free zone on Conadilly St. The initial proposal was to ban smoking between Elgin and Chandos streets and the public walkways to the Vernados and Souris carparks.
Among the five submissions received was a comment the initial proposed zone unfairly discriminated against some businesses as it did not include other areas of the CBD heavily utilised by pedestrians. There was also a suggestion to include areas around the children’s playground at Wolsley Park, which although protected by the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 prohibiting smoking within 10 metres, did not stop smoking on the adjacent road and walkways.
It is proposed the new smoke-free zone area be extended to include Conadilly Street, from Tempest to Henry streets, and the walkways to any public car park within the area. The new policy also includes a ban on the consumption of e-cigarettes.
When the issue was raised at council’s February ordinary meeting, councillor Ann Luke enquired why only Conadilly St was specified for exclusion.
Council’s director of planning Andrew Johns said the revised zone balanced the rights of smokers with the interests of community.
“It’s important not to put a block on the whole CBD,” he said. “But there are ample areas for people to smoke.”
Financial costs include $5000 in capital expenditure for sign installation and butt-out bins, as well as a yearly expenses of $1000 for maintenance costs and $4000 for a compliance officer to enforce the smoking ban.
Mayor Jamie Chaffey said the smoke-free zone was consistent with council policy and pending further feedback, would be enacted immediately once signed-off by council.
The revised draft smoke-free environment policy will be on public exhibit at council for 28 days. Further public submissions will be open for 42 days before the policy is presented again at a future council meeting.