Halifax rolls out more designated smoking areas ahead of cannabis legalization

Tue, Oct 16: After a rocky rollout of the municipality's new smoking ban that saw only nine designated smoking areas ready to go for Monday morning, there are now over 30 in the region. But as Silas Brown reports, there are still several gaps in the map.

Halifax unveiled more designated smoking areas on Tuesday, with at least 31 now marked on the municipality’s map as of 10:45 a.m.

There are several locations on the Halifax peninsula. Downtown has experienced a growth of the areas, with at least four cropping up on Argyle Street.

The designated smoking areas are the Halifax Regional Municipality’s response to the impending legalization of cannabis.  Halifax Regional Council amended its existing Nuisance Bylaw to prohibit smoking of any kind on municipal property, except in specially designated areas. It’s now called the Smoking and Nuisance Bylaw.

Haligonians are still able to light up on private property, but the bylaw prohibits smoking or vaping any substance on municipal property except within three metres of these specifically designated areas.

READ MORE: Halifax councillor David Hendsbee takes matters into own hands, moves designated smoking area away from school

More are expected to be introduced in the coming days, with the municipality telling Global News on Friday that it had received 50 applications from businesses throughout the municipality.

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There will be no cap on the number of designated smoking areas.

The municipality is still accepting applications, and businesses are required to provide a description of the proposed designated smoking area and a rationale for their request.

WATCH: Hundreds of people lined up well before doors opened at NSLC cannabis stores across Nova Scotia to legally purchase the stuff for the first time. And as Alexa MacLean reports, over $200,000 worth has already been sold.

A dope day: Maritimes brave chilly temperatures for cannabis
A dope day: Maritimes brave chilly temperatures for cannabis

Government says no to legal cannabis lounges

For those hoping to find an indoor public space to smoke, the provincial government says it won’t be changing its mind anytime soon.

The owner of a cannabis smoking lounge says that the soon-to-be-legal product should be treated differently than tobacco.

“It has its own distinct personality as a commodity here and people don’t necessarily want to have to be outside, you know, for five minutes using cannabis,” said Chris Henderson, the owner of High Life Social Club. “They might want to actually socialize.”

READ MORE: Cannabis IQ: Across the country, here’s what to expect on legalization day

The Nova Scotia Department of Justice has said that it will not amend the Smoke Free Places Act to allow for the legislation of cannabis consumption lounges.

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“No, this is not something we are considering,” said spokesperson Heather Fairbairn in an email when asked about the possibility of smoking lounges.

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“The Smoke Free Places Act requires all indoor public places, including workplaces, and all restaurants, lounges, beverages rooms and cabarets, to be smoke free.”

Many landlords and rental companies in the municipality have banned the smoking of cannabis on their properties, leaving potential tokers with the outdoor DSAs.

“It’s going to be an issue for a lot of people who are trying to enjoy cannabis and don’t want to stand outside in the cold in these designated smoking areas,” Henderson said, “and I feel like places like [High Life] obviously would totally fix that issue.”
A screenshot of the Halifax Regional Municipality designated smoking area map on Oct. 16, 2018.
A screenshot of the Halifax Regional Municipality designated smoking area map on Oct. 16, 2018. Halifax Regional Municipality

The response to the city’s designated smoking areas has been mixed, with critics and councillors pointing out how the municipality has restricted something that was already legal.

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“I’m sorry to folks, especially cigarette smokers, who are smoking something that’s always been legal,” said Matt Whitman, councillor for Hammonds Plains-St. Margarets, on Monday.

Whitman voted against the bylaw amendment and said that the roll-out has been poorly executed.

WATCH: Smokers frustrated with lack of designated smoking areas on peninsula

Smokers frustrated with lack of designated smoking areas on peninsula
Smokers frustrated with lack of designated smoking areas on peninsula

The decision to restrict smoking and vaping came in response to the legalization of cannabis, set for Oct. 17.

The bylaw was scheduled to come into effect on Oct. 1, but was delayed due to logistical issues.

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