It’s time for the District of West Vancouver to butt in and give smokers somewhere to butt out their cigarettes – that was the consensus at a recent council meeting.
Having experienced picking up the many cigarette butts smokers leave behind on the streets and at parks firsthand while taking part in the annual mayor’s cleanup day, Mayor Mary-Ann Booth put forward a motion requesting staff to explore the options on installing cigarette disposal bins at the June 28 regular council meeting.
“The three mayor’s cleanups that I've done, have highlighted for me and the volunteers, the prevalence of cigarette butts around our community, around the commercial areas in particular, often around construction sites, and at bus stops,” Booth said.
“I know that there is some resistance to place these receptacles and ashtrays in areas where smoking isn't really allowed, but people are doing it anyway.”
Booth also added that the City of North Vancouver and Vancouver have already implemented cigarette butt disposal bins and or outdoor ashtrays to address the same issue.
The City of North Vancouver council voted unanimously to start a cigarette butt recycling program back in 2019. The city states that its Don't Be a Butthead outreach program aims to reduce the amount of cigarette butt litter found throughout the community and offers free pocket ashtrays that can be used to extinguish and store cigarette butts until they can be emptied into a waste bin."
Booth's motion also highlighted that “cigarette butts have been identified as the most prevalent type of litter collected in beach cleanups around the world.”
Further to this, it stated that cigarette butts leach toxic chemicals, such as arsenic and lead, and the filters contain microplastics and take a very long time to degrade.
“When littered on the ground, cigarette butts can easily make their way into our waterways during rain events, and thereby negatively impacting the environment and marine life,” the motion states.
“Carelessly discarded cigarette butts can cause fires.”
For all these reasons, the mayor brought the motion forward and it was supported unanimously by council.
Staff will now get to work on a report on the implications, financial and otherwise, of providing cigarette butt disposal bins and or outdoor ashtrays in the community. The report will be presented to council at a later date.
Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News