Locations where cannabis will and won’t be allowed once it’s legal Oct. 17 were determined at Edmonton City Hall on Tuesday.
During the debate, councillors took a more extensive — and more restrictive — view of the issue and decided to include tobacco smoke in the cannabis consumption bylaw. The motion passed in a close vote of 7-6.
“The best advice we’ve received is start a little more restrictive and ease restrictions over time based on experience rather than start overly permissive and then as people become accustomed to certain things, it would be difficult to take them away,” Mayor Don Iveson said.
It will address “where there’s lots of people gathering, lots of the public who don’t want to be exposed to public consumption of cannabis or tobacco,” said Coun. Michael Walters, who tabled the motion.
The goal is to make cannabis restrictions and cigarette restrictions exactly the same because enforcement officials have said it will be difficult differentiating between the two at first glance.
“What I’ve heard in all the conversations I’ve had with my constituents and Edmontonians, what I’ve heard in the last few days over email and phone calls, and what we saw in the survey results, is that people in the city want us to be cautious and conservative and not allow a wide proliferation of cannabis smoke wherever they’re going to be trying to enjoy the city,” Walters said.
Places you won’t be able to smoke:
- Within 10 metres of any bus stop
- By any entrance/exit, window, air intake system
- On a patio
- In a park that has children’s amenities like playgrounds, outdoor pools, sports fields or off-leash areas
- Churchill Square
- The Edmonton Valley Zoo, Muttart Conservatory, John Janzen Nature Centre
- Any city-owned golf course
Places you will be able to smoke:
- Sidewalks (as long as you’re 10 metres away from any bus stop, entrance/exit, window, air intake system or patio)
- Parks without children’s amenities
- Walking trails
- Grass utility lines
- Any designated consumption area at a festival
- Private property (businesses/owners set own rules)
- Outside hospitals, away from doors
“I don’t think our job is to sort of significantly accommodate people’s consumption of cannabis simply because the federal government legalized it,” Walters said. “I think our job was to determine some principles for the policies that we wanted to put in place, namely that we keep cannabis, alcohol and tobacco use away from children.”
Coun. Scott McKeen, who chairs the committee that has been handling this file, said they adopted the less restrictive approach last week. However, on Tuesday, he said things changed.
“We of course had a lengthy discussion about this and chose the option that was less restricted after our debate, but I know there have been concerns raised by the public and by some of my colleagues.”
Last week, council talked about a 30-metre buffer zone away from playground equipment.
The change of direction means there would be no smoking at all in large district parks like Hawrelak Park, for instance.
McKeen says the regulations will likely change over time.
“This bylaw will not be correct. It will evolve, we’ll have to amend it over time as we learn about what is cannabis culture, cannabis behaviour going to look like.”
Coun. Jon Dziadyk introduced an amendment to create designated smoking areas in large parks. However, it was put aside to be discussed at another time.
“What concerns me is tobacco is addicting, it’s addictive, the nicotine in it. There may be mothers, fathers supervising their children at a playground. They may be on a bench several metres away. If you’re addicted to smoking, you need to smoke somewhere,” he said.
Parks that have amenities for kids make up about two thirds of Edmonton parks.
Recreational marijuana is set to become legal in Canada on Oct. 17.
— With files from Scott Johnston and Vinesh Pratap