Background

The Clean Air Bylaw for the Capital Regional District was first implemented on January 1, 1999, making all indoor public spaces 100% smoke-free. The Bylaw was amended on July 1, 2007 to include all businesses with patios where food and beverages were being served and/or consumed. On September 10, 2014, the Capital Regional District Board adopted Clean Air Bylaw No. 3962, which expanded the smoke-free areas to include parks, playgrounds, playing fields, public squares and bus stops. It also extended the smoke-free buffer zones outside of doorways, windows and air intakes (from 3 metres to 7 metres). Following an extensive public education and awareness campaign, the enforcement of the Bylaw began on April 1, 2015. The most recent amendment of the Bylaw was adopted by the CRD Board at its January 9, 2019 meeting. This amendment prohibits the burning or vaping of any substances, including cannabis, in any public space as identified in the existing bylaw. The Island Health Tobacco and Vapour Prevention Control team provides education and awareness around the Bylaw, as well as written warnings and municipal fine tickets (including cannabis).

Exclusive Authority

The CRD has the exclusive authority under its Health Letters Patent powers and the Local Government Act to enact and enforce public health bylaws governing activities within the entire region, such as smoking. Staff work closely with Island Health, municipal partners and community stakeholder groups to ensure effective implementation of this Bylaw. Focus is on increased public awareness and education about the Bylaw and the health issues associated with exposure to second-hand smoke. The May 9, 2018 adoption of the amendment to Clean Air Bylaw No. 3962 ensures that persons of all ages are protected from the potential immediate and long term health consequences related to second hand emissions from any substance that can be smoked or burned.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who do I contact if I want to make a complaint?

Island Health enforces the CRD’s public health bylaws.

To make a complaint about the Clean Air Bylaw, please contact the Island Health Tobacco Control Program at 250.360.1450 or via email.

For other public health bylaws please call 250.519.3401.

What is considered a park?

A park means land acquired, reserved or dedicated as a regional park or community park in accordance with the Local Government Act or Community Charter. 

What is considered a public square?

A public square is land that is acquired, reserved or dedicated as a public square in accordance with the Local Government Act or Community Charter. Examples include Centennial Square and Bastion Square in downtown Victoria.

What is considered a public playground?

A public playground is any land held, occupied, zoned or regulated for use by the public as an outdoor area containing playground equipment.

What is considered a public playing field?

A public playing field is any land held, occupied, zoned or regulated for use by the public as an outdoor area for sporting activities.

Am I allowed to smoke in the parking lot of a park?

No. However, you are permitted to smoke inside your vehicle in a parking lot unless you have a youth under the age of 16 in the vehicle with you. (see Bill 36)

Does the Bylaw include private residences or rental housing?

Neither the CRD nor its municipalities have the authority to control smoking in private residences. However, the Clean Air Bylaw does apply to common areas and common entrances of multi-unit dwellings. Smoking is prohibited in common rooms, on common patios, and within seven (7) metres of a common area entrance/exit, window or air intake.

Smoking in private residences is something that can only be controlled through the strata council for your building (under the provisions of the strata corporation bylaws) or by a property management company/building owner (under each residents tenancy agreement). Read more >>

Where does the seven (7) metre buffer zone apply?

Smoking is prohibited within seven (7) metres of bus stops as well as doorways, windows and air intakes of publicly accessible buildings. This includes businesses as well as common areas and entrances of multi-unit dwellings (such as apartment buildings).

Are there resources available to me if I want to quit smoking?

Yes. Please visit the Tobacco Cessation for more information.

What about the burning of tobacco during traditional Aboriginal ceremonies?

The ceremonial burning of tobacco as part of an Aboriginal cultural activity is exempt from the Bylaw.

Are there signs to show me where smoking is not allowed?

Yes. ‘No Smoking’ signs are posted at bus shelters, parks, playgrounds, public squares and playing fields. Business owners and strata property managers are also required to post signage outside of their buildings to advise that the minimum smoking distance from doorways, windows and air intakes is seven metres.

How is the Bylaw enforced?

Encouraging compliance with the bylaw includes:
  1. Targeted education and awareness
  2. Sufficient and proper signage
  3. Voluntary compliance & peer pressure
  4. Rotation of physical presence and monitoring by Island Health enforcement officers
  5. Ticketing in specific situations

If you have a concern about compliance, please contact the Island Health Tobacco Control Program at 250.360.1450 or via email.

Does the Clean Air Bylaw also prohibit the burning of cannabis or use of e-cigarettes?

Yes, the Clean Air Bylaw prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in any public space identified in the Bylaw. The Bylaw would also prohibit the burning of cannabis if it is legalized by the federal government in 2018.