Sept. 1 marks two years since the park board established its smoking ban for sports fields, courts and ball diamonds, as well as parks, playgrounds, pathways, trails, the seawall and public golf courses. Across the city the ban includes green spaces, access streets, sidewalks and parking lots.
Vancouver actually beat New York City in implementing such a ban, which once again makes our city that much cooler.
I checked with the park board to see how many tickets have been issued since the ban came into effect since Sept. 1, 2010. Fines begin at $250 for a first offence, and the park board voted in July 2010, to give park rangers the legal authority to ticket beach and park visitors who ignore the smoking ban. The park board employs 30 park rangers.
Between Sept. 1, 2010 and now, the park board has issued 104 tickets and 248 written warning. Between Sept. 1, 2010 and February 2012, park rangers also gave 20 formal verbal warnings and dealt with more than 7,000 incidents of voluntary or verbal compliance. The park board's goal is to increase that voluntary compliance through education and enforcement by park rangers.
Another goal of the ban is to cut down on the massive amount of cigarette butts left by smokers on beaches and in parks. According to Vancouver statistics from the 2011 Great Shoreline Cleanup, sponsored by Loblaw in cooperation with the Vancouver Aquarium and the World Wildlife Federation, 60 per cent of the litter picked up during the event was smoking-related garbage. That translates to more than 61,400 cigarettes and filters, as well as another 1,275 tobacco packages and 1,123 cigar tips. FYI, also found during that cleanup was a fully decorated Christmas tree and a French flag.
Beginning Sept. 1, the cost to use many park board facilities will increase. There are too many to list here, but the increase includes swimming and skating lessons and admission to the Hillcrest Aquatic Centre, rink and fitness centre and the Killarney Leisure Pool and racquets courts. You can also expect increases for golf club rentals, marina storage fees and parking at Stanley, Queen Elizabeth, Kitsilano and Jericho Beach parks. While many of the increases are only one or two percent, parking is seeing the biggest jump. In Queen Elizabeth Park, the daily rate for parking from April 1 to Sept. 30 is increasing by 25 per cent from $8 to $10. The hourly rate of $3 remains the same. In Stanley Park, the hourly rate is doubling from $2 for two hours to $2 per hour from Oct. 1 to March 31. For a complete list of fee increases visit vancouver.ca.
Britannia Community Centre is celebrating its not-so-small army of volunteers with its first outdoor music and movie night Sept. 5 in Grandview Park.
Organizers say it's due to the 300-plus volunteers who serve the centre and the Grandview-Woodland community that the neighbourhood is as vibrant and dynamic as it is.
Britannia is different than the city's other community centres in that it's not solely operated by the park board and instead management is shared between the board, the school board and city. The festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 5 with food vendors, face painting, music and live entertainment, including the marimba percussion band Kutapira. A screening of the movie Ratatouille begins at dusk.