New blue lines in downtown Yellowknife show smokers where they can and can’t smoke

Blue lines seen here in front of the medical clinic building have shown up in front of several downtown buildings (John McFadden/CKLB photo)

Yellowknifers who smoke downtown now have one less excuse if they are caught smoking too close to entrances of buildings.

Maintenance crews from Northview Properties REIT have recently painted bright blue lines in front of several downtown businesses and office buildings, marking the three-metre distance smokers must keep between themselves and the front doors when they smoke.

In other words, outside the blue lines-good, inside the blue lines-bad.

Brian Maule, senior property manager for Northview Properties commercial division says the company decided to paint the lines on its own and it was not done as a response to any specific complaints.

“There was no discussion with the city or direction from them. I actually don’t really like painting things because it then requires maintenance,” Maule said. “We now have an obligation to maintain these lines.”

Despite now being responsible for the upkeep, Maule adds that he thinks it is a good initiative on the company’s part.

It was initially thought that the city might be responsible for painting the lines because technically, the sidewalks are city property.

But an official for the city said they didn’t paint the lines and suggested it could have been done by the GNWT’s Department of Health and Social Services.

An official there said it wasn’t them but thought perhaps the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) was responsible for the bright blue lines.

However, WSCC also said it had nothing to do with them.

That’s when CKLB checked in with Northview Properties.

Maule, who came to the city with his family from Vancouver about a year ago, says that an initiative like this could see opposition in a bigger city than Yellowknife.

“Here it doesn’t seem to bother anyone,” he said.

Maule agrees that once snow covers the sidewalks in the fall, the lines will be of little use until spring but he adds that he still thinks it’s a good idea to help both smokers and non-smokers alike know the boundaries.

People who smoke within three metres of the front door of a building in Yellowknife could face a $500 fine, while employers, who don’t enforce the rule, could face a $5,000 fine.

Worker’s Comp inspectors or safety officers have real powers when it comes to enforcing the law.

That’s according to Maggie Collins, spokesperson for WSCC.

“The Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) is responsible for the regulation of smoking at worksites under the safety legislation, which includes “no smoking” within a 3 m radius from the entrance or exit from an enclosed worksite,” Collins stated in an email to CKLB. “Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Inspectors or Safety Officers are appointed as peace officers, however, our practice is to work collaboratively with employers and workers to address concerns.”

The no smoking blue lines have also been painted in front of buildings owned by companies other than Northview Properties. 








About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.