The County of Wetaskiwin won’t allow recreational use of cannabis in municipal campsites, as they approved their cannabis bylaw Oct. 8.
Councilors debated the cannabis control bylaw presented by Assistant CAO Jeff Chipley. “At the Council General meeting held on Tuesday September 16, 2018, Council resolved “for Administration to draft a bylaw in respect to a total ban of public consumption of cannabis in the County of Wetaskiwin for consideration by Council at the November 8, 2018 Council for Planning and Economic Development meeting,” stated Chipley in his memo to council.
“The purpose of the proposed Bylaw is to impose additional restrictions on the smoking and all forms of consumption of cannabis in public places. The proposed bylaw limits consumption of cannabis to only private property as Section 8 and 9 of this Bylaw state that ‘No person shall Smoke or consume Cannabis in any Public Place’ and ‘No person shall Smoke or consume Cannabis on any property owned by the County, including, but not limited to, parks, playgrounds, streets, sidewalks, green spaces, recreation facilities, libraries, and other property regularly used by the general public, except in rented campsites in Designated Parks per the Parks Bylaw 2018/34.’
“Furthermore, this bylaw does not apply to anyone who produces medical documentation for the use of cannabis, as noted under Sections 10 and 11 of the proposed Bylaw. However, administration notes that Section 7 of the proposed bylaw ensures that any provision of other federal, provincial, or municipal law can be superseded by this bylaw, meaning that individuals with medical documentation would still not be permitted to smoke in public areas such as playgrounds, libraries, schools, and other areas as defined by the Liquor, Gaming, and Cannabis Act and the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act.”
Municipal intern Naomi Finseth stated the county staff looked at cannabis bylaws already approved by other municipalities, including Sylvan Lake, Camrose and others. She said most of them were very similar with some minor differences.
The biggest changes for the County of Wetaskiwin version was the proposal to ban all recreational cannabis use in public places and banning of recreational cannabis on county property except for rented campsites. This part, however, fired the council debate.
Councilor Josh Bishop stated he wanted to see the campsites section removed. Bishop said smoke moves from campsite to campsite and the only way to prevent that is to ban it.
Chipley stated the staff included it because it looks like provincial and federal campgrounds are going to allow recreational cannabis in rented sites.
Councilor Lyle Seely stated he didn’t see a problem with use in campsites, as people have paid for the site and it’s their home for the weekend. As well, cannabis was being used in campsites and wasn’t a serious problem.
Councilor Bill Krahn wondered how many people actually smoke marijuana while camping. Councilor Dale Woitt asked how alcohol is handled in campsites.
Director of Planning David Blades responded that alcohol consumption in county campgrounds is permitted in rented campsites, but walking around public places in the campground is prohibited.
Bishop stated people in campgrounds shouldn’t have to breathe marijuana smoke if they don’t want to, including children.
Councilor Ken Adair said, “I agree 100 per cent with Josh.” Adair noted smoke travels, alcohol doesn’t. Reeve Terry Van de Kraats also agreed with Bishop.
Chipley noted the bylaw in question covers recreational cannabis, not medical. Anyone who has a prescription for medical cannabis is covered under provincial and federal law. Councilor Kathy Rooyakkers noted many medical cannabis users don’t smoke marijuana, but rather use oils.
Bishop said the parts of the proposed bylaw referring to medical cannabis should just be removed. Rooyakkers agreed.
Councilors approved all three readings of the bylaw, with references to medical cannabis removed and including prohibition of recreational cannabis in campsites.