Stettler town council has taken the first steps to prepare for the impeding legalization of cannabis.
Councillors met on March 13 to discuss what local regulations might look like, before bringing two bylaws to their April 3 meeting. Here, first reading was given to amendments to both the Land Use Bylaw and Smoking Bylaw.
These changes will also be highlighted at the town’s booth at the upcoming Stettler Trade Show, as well as at a public hearing scheduled for May 1. A location and time is still to be determined.
The bylaws will also be advertised for two weeks ahead of second and third readings to finalize the amendments.
“Public education is key, and that can’t happen until we have a bylaw,” said Leann Graham, the Town of Stettler’s Development and Planning Officer.
Land Use Bylaw
Town council needed to update the Land Use Bylaw to permit cannabis sales in Stettler, in order to bring their legislation in line with provincial and federal standards.
In doing so, Stettler’s bylaws follow provincial standards that stores and facilities will not be allowed with a 100-metre boundary of any schools or health care centres.
One area of enforcement the municipality has control over is how retail and production facility licenses are awarded.
Council voted to allow permitted zoning for retail stores, while implementing a discretionary approval process for cannabis production facilities.
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 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.
Stettler town council will strictly prohibit cannabis smoking on any school or hospital properties, as well as child/youth facilities. It will also not be allowed on any buildings or land deemed to be a public place.
Tobacco products have also been separated in the Smoking Bylaw, as they were not defined before.
Provincial law for tobacco smoking is five metres from any public entrance, but municipalities have the ability to extend this distance.
Listed below are the definitions for restrictions on cannabis and tobacco in the Town of Stettler’s Smoking Bylaw:
The smoking of Cannabis is strictly prohibited in or on the following places:
a) Child/Youth facility;
b) Designated public place – Building;
c) Designated public place – Land;
d) Hospital property;
e) School property.
No person may smoke cannabis within the following prescribed distances:
a) 6 metres from an entrance or exit to a public building;
b) 6 metres from an entrance or exit to a town building;
c) 6 metres from the boundary of a designated public place- Land
d) Public transportation vehicles and public transportation vehicle shelters; and
e) 6 metres from an entrance or exit to a workplace.
The smoking of Tobacco is strictly prohibited in or on the following places:
a) Designated public place – Land;
b) Hospital property;
c) School property;
No person may smoke tobacco within the following prescribed distances:
a) 6 metres from an entrance or exit to a child care facility;
b) 6 metres from an entrance or exit to a child/youth facility;
c) 6 metres from an entrance or exit to a designated public place – Building;
d) 6 metres from an entrance or exit to a public building;
e) 6 metres from an entrance or exit to a town building;
f) Public transportation vehicles and public transportation vehicle shelters; and
g) 6 metres from an entrance or exit to a workplace.
Amendments were also added to fully capture the definition of smoking. This now includes vaporizers or other lighted smoking implements designed to burn or heat tobacco, cannabis or any other weed or substance for the purpose of inhaling or tasting of its smoke or emissions.
Definitions of a private residence are also laid out in the bylaw amendments. It states that the portion of the building containing the private residence shall not be considered a public building.
However, if a building contains two or more private residences, the common areas of the building such as stairways, lobbies, and laundry rooms shall be deemed a public building.
“Renters who’ve been told they cannot consume will need an allowable public place,” said Stettler Mayor Sean Nolls. “We talked about a Community Standards Bylaw that could outlaw consumption in public areas like alcohol, but our legal guidance has suggested this could create a human rights issue for those with medical prescriptions.”
Finally, there were questions from council over what regulations for cannabis signage will look like around the community.
At this time, direction is expected in the future for definitions on allowable sizes and prominence.