SMOKING and vaping would be banned from Walyalup Koort and the High Street Mall under Fremantle council’s latest initiative to try and stamp out anti-social behaviour.
Councillor Rachel Pemberton put forward a proposed local law banning having a puff in the city’s heart at the council’s recent finance, policy and legislation committee.
Cr Pemberton told the Herald the aim was to give the council’s safety officers a “tool” to deal with problem behaviour, as they’re currently hamstrung by the law.
“I don’t want them taking people down for smoking and petty stuff like that, but they don’t actually have the legal right to move people on in general,” she said.
“If they’re street drinking, they need to call the police because they don’t have the powers to do anything about that.
“It’s about creating a clean, healthy environment for people to be in, but also it gives our staff a tool and it discourages people who want to sit around and smoke from doing it in those areas.
“Hopefully they get the message eventually, ‘hey, go and hang out somewhere else if you want to sit around and smoke and do all that’.
“I acknowledge it just moves the problem elsewhere… but at least we would have a couple of the premier areas of Freo, where we’ve just invested a lot of money in making Walyalup Koort, as a destination for families, and just keeping it feeling safe and welcoming.”
Cr Pemberton said no smoking signs were becoming more prevalent around the City of Perth, Subiaco and Leederville, and Fremantle was a bit behind the ball.
Staff first have to draft up the proposed law, which then has to be advertised for public comment, and Cr Pemberton is keen to see the response because it could raise the prospect of the ban being widened.
“I was thinking ‘should it be on the Cappuccino Strip’ … well, with the nightclubs there, that’s probably a stupid idea.
“The beaches are other location where this sometimes gets talked about.
“This is a conversation starter, really.”
The proposal wasn’t universally supported by the committee, with Crs Geoff Graham and Marija Vujcic concerned it was going too far.
“We appear to be picking on the poor old, hard-done-bys again,” Cr Graham said.
Cr Vujcic said smoking wasn’t a crime and the city needed better strategies and not quick-fix solutions.
But Cr Pemberton said she’s done her time volunteering and working in the homeless sector and isn’t being draconian.
“I’m not about targeting people, and I’m not about making disadvantaged people’s lives harder or worse.
“It’s about targeting bad behaviour. We’re not going to be penalising people and chasing them down going ‘don’t smoke here’; if you’re doing it away from kids, and away from the playground, and you’re not causing any drama, then nobody’s probably even going go notice.”
by STEVE GRANT