City to include cannabis use in smoking bylaw as first planned
City officials are staying with their plan to include cannabis and tobacco smoking, and vaping under changes to the existing smoking bylaw, after hearing back from thousands of Edmontonians.
Back in July, officials decided including all types of smoking in the bylaw would make iteasier to enforce, but council decided to seek feedback from city residents before moving forward with the changes.
Under the changes, smoking would be prohibited in outdoor city spaces, like Churchill Square, Fort Edmonton Park and Hawrelak Park. It could also be banned in city-owned properties, including playgrounds, sports fields, skate and bicycle parks, outdoor theatres, outdoor pools and spray parks, seasonal skating rinks, off-leash areas and golf courses. The changes would see smoking banned in about two thirds of city parks.
The changes also prohibit smoking within 10 metres of doorways and windows.
“Well I think this is the final step, is to get smoking out of outdoor public places where children are present,” Les Hagen, spokesperson for Action on Smoking and Health said.
Hagen said he believes it would be the biggest change to smoking rules since tobacco was banned in Edmonton restaurants and bars in the mid-2000s.
Councillors approved the changes in July, but backtracked after getting some backlash from the city’s business community. They asked administration to consult the public on the tighter rules.
Between July 25 and August 1, 8,720 people responded to the survey – 5,986 from the city’s website, and 2,734 from Edmonton Insight Community. In total, more than 55 per cent of respondents said they strongly supported the change.
Overall, the public survey found 68.3 per cent of respondents supported or strongly supported increasing the distance where people can smoke from 5 metres to 10 metres, and 75.3 per cent supported or strongly supported banning tobacco consumption at all City of Edmonton attractions.
However, Ward 3 Councillor John Dziadyk believed the survey was rushed.
“In order to properly engage the public we need more than a survey that’s open for six days,” Dziadyk said. He believes the city should put a greater focus on cannabis, as only weeks remain before it is legalized on October 17.
“All I know is I’m not receiving any complaints from constituents about the current smoking bylaws,” Dziadyk said.
As far as changes to the smoking bylaw are concerned, a major unknown is how it will be enforced.
In April, the city budgeted $4 million to cover anticipated costs associated with the new regulations. That could include more peace officers. It’s hoped the funding will be reimbursed by the province once tax money from cannabis sales comes in.
With files from Jeremy Thompson