West Kelowna sets ‘illegal’ pot-smoking fine at $500

City council has amended its parks and public spaces bylaw regarding cannabis consumption. File/Global News

It’s just days before cannabis becomes legal in Canada on October 17th.

Among the many questions citizens are asking: Where can I light up?

In West Kelowna, the answer, according to city council, is simple: Only on private property.

READ MORE: B.C. gov’t releases updated rules on cannabis, consumption

On Tuesday morning, city council held a special meeting, and out of that meeting arose a new bylaw amendment regarding non-medical cannabis consumption. That amendment states that cannabis consumption will be restricted to private places only, and if you blaze a joint or vape cannabis on public property, you risk getting fined $500.

The bylaw amendment stems from council’s direction on September 25th that asked city staff to have a prohibition in place from smoking cannabis in public spaces. So the parks and public spaces bylaw was amended to meet council’s wishes, except on private parcels. A fine of $500 was also added to smoking cannabis in public spaces.

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Mayor Doug Findlater said “I do think that, over time, there will be changes, perhaps due to greater social acceptance of cannabis. We may not see the restrictions that we have now on retail, but it’s probably headed to the same place that liquor is, and we have more restrictions on cannabis than we do on liquor.

READ MORE: Alberta municipalities’ rules about cannabis rules differ

“But this is the absolute best that could and should be done as we start down the road to what’s a fairly big shift in our society. Thank you to the federal government of whether we needed it or wanted it or not, it’s here.”

Councillor Rosalind Neis declared a conflict of interest before the meeting began, stating she owns stock in several publicly traded cannabis companies.

Councillor Carol Zanon said she expects “to see changes, but I think this is exactly the right place for us to be starting on this new venture,” adding this is similar to the end of alcohol prohibition and it was “a super change in the direction of society.”