AREAS of public space such as Hargreaves Mall could see smoking banned with a local laws review set to hand council the power to designate smoke free areas around the city.
Councillors adopted changes to the local law at last week’s council meeting, and a draft copy of the policy has been put on public display.
The changes include references to waste management, the control of vehicle sales on the side of roads and controlling advertising on road reserves.
But the Hargreaves Mall could be affected under two of the more significant aspects of the law review.
Council has assumed the power to declare areas of the municipality as smoke free under the changes.
Healthy and safe environments manager Caroline Grylls said council currently has no areas earmarked for the change, but councillors had showed interest in giving council the power to declare smoke free areas.
“If council identifies any council-owned or managed land, then there is a clearly defined process for us to make that change,” she said.
“It has to be advertised, put into the government gazette and defined from a geographical and time perspective.”
Ms Grylls said council would likely not make the change for events, as one-off events made the regulation difficult to police.
It may not be the only change made to the mall, with traffic restrictions previously imposed under local laws lifted.
The mall has remained a road even while closed to traffic, but was subject to local controls.
That will change for it to be solely covered by standard road rules, opening up the possibility of traffic in the area in coming years.
But Ms Grylls wrote that off as “a possibility and certainly not a plan”.
“We don’t need any local laws for traffic in the mall because technically it is still a road,” she said.
“It has always been a road, so we can just use the usual traffic control signs to control that area.”
Council will also be able to penalise fitness operators using public spaces without a permit in a change in line with its Commercial Fitness Operators Policy.
Any fitness operator requires a permit to use public spaces such as parks and reserves, but council had previously not been able to impose a penalty upon rogue operators.
“Connecting the policy to a local law allows us to impose a penalty if people are found to be continuously using spaces without a permit,” she said.
“They have always required a permit and we were finding a policy was required to make those spaces sustainable and of a high quality.
“It’s about facilitating for the use of the spaces as opposed to trying to keep people out of them.”
Mayor Margaret O’Rourke said the laws are one of several regulatory tools for council to help it manage the safety, amenity, and protection of its assets and the environment specific to its municipality.
“The focus of this review has been to reduce red tape and ensure the local laws under review remain relevant and reflect the contemporary expectations of the community and the local government sector,” she said.
The review process has been opened for community consultation, with submissions open until 5pm on Monday, February 26.
Council says all submissions regarding the draft Greater Bendigo City Council Community Local Law must be made in writing and will be considered in accordance with Section 223 of the Local Government Act 1989.
If a submitter wishes to appear in person, or be represented by a person, to speak to their submission, this should be specifically requested in their written submission.
All submissions should be addressed to Caroline Grylls, Manager Safe and Healthy Environments, City of Greater Bendigo, PO Box 733 Bendigo 3552.