Stettler town council will head back to the drawing board to find a compromise on public cannabis consumption.
During the May 1 meeting, council tabled second reading on its smoking bylaw, which outlines where cannabis could be consumed once it’s legalized.
First reading was passed April 3 to outlaw public consumption of cannabis within six metres of a workplace, public or town building.
The bylaw would have also prohibited cannabis smoking on any school or hospital properties, child/youth facilities or on public land or buildings.
Tobacco products have also been separated in the smoking bylaw, as they weren’t defined before. Provincial law for tobacco smoking is five metres from any public entrance, but municipalities have the ability to extend this distance.
After no objections were filed during the public hearing, Coun. Malcolm Fischer took issue with the six-metre designation that would allow public consumption outside of these areas.
He pointed out cities such as Calgary, Lacombe and Innisfail have completely outlawed public smoking, and felt people walking on pathways in Stettler outside these six metre areas may have complaints about the smell.
“I don’t think it’s going to turn into a Grateful Dead concert around town,” said Mayor Sean Nolls. “Those that already smoke, I don’t see them walking down the street doing it when it’s legalized.”
Mayor Nolls pointed to “possible human rights issues that may arise for renters who don’t have a public place to consume a legalized substance. We have designated areas such as bars where alcohol consumption is allowed.”
Coun. Fischer responded saying they need to legislate “for the rights of the many, instead of the few. In that case, I foresee someone coming to us looking to set up a smoking lounge, and then we would have a designated spot. It’s better to get this right proactively than re-actively, so what’s the fair approach here?”
After the discussion, council passed a 6-1 motion to table the smoking bylaw, with only Mayor Nolls voting against. Future amendments will have to go through a two-week advertising period before second and third readings can be passed.
Cannabis is expected to be legalized by the federal government sometime this summer, once third reading of the bill passes through the Senate.
Land use bylaw
Prior to discussing the smoking bylaw, council held a public hearing on the land use bylaw which details where cannabis operations can be located in Stettler.
No submissions were received in opposition to the regulations, however, one letter did request council look at allowing cannabis sale in the R2A district.
Administration recommended the applicant apply to rezone their property to a C1 commercial district, as the R2A zoning was created for industries such as accounting and legal services.
After hearing the submissions, council passed second and third reading on the updated land use bylaw. This means cannabis retail sales will be listed as a permitted use within the C1, C2 and Industrial zones.
Meantime, cannabis production facilities will only be allowed in Industrial as a discretionary use that must first be approved by council.
Permitted use means an application doesn’t need to come before council so long as all zoning requirements have been met. Discretionary status means that every application must come before council for approval.
In addition to current land use requirements, cannabis retailers will also have to abide by the following regulations:
• Must comply with the provisions set out in the provincial Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act.
• Must obtain and submit a copy of the retail Cannabis Store License.
• Must not have an exterior wall located within 100-metre of a provincial health care facility, or a boundary of a parcel of land on which the facility is located.
• Must not have an exterior wall located within 100-metre of a school, or boundary of a parcel of land on which a building is located.
• Must not have an exterior wall located within 100-metre of a boundary or parcel of land that is designated as school reserve or municipal reserve.
• Permits will not be required for plants for personal use not exceeding four plants that are contained indoors.