Stephen Utz, Director of CAO Office, brought forward a presentation at the most recent Airdrie City Council Meeting regarding the city's smoking bylaw, as well as its cannabis consumption bylaw, recommending Council review the bylaws and compare them to what other committees in Alberta are doing with respect to their own smoking and cannabis consumption bylaws.
“The City of Airdrie's Smoking Bylaw, the existing one in the books, was first adopted comprehensively in 2004. They have been amended on several occasions, most recently in 2020. That was to address a couple of emerging trends including electronic cigarettes and vaping, placing restrictions in playgrounds and public recreation areas, and updating penalties for contraventions.”
In terms of a Cannabis Consumption Bylaw, especially with the change in federal legislation, it was adopted first in 2018. This addressed the federal legalization of cannabis and public consumption in general. It was then amended in 2019, based on legal advice, to provide public cannabis consumption sites for those who might not have private property where they would otherwise be allowed to consume cannabis.
“The bylaw currently specifically excludes recreation cannabis consumption. That's because it's covered in the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw. Public smoking is permitted only in certain locations, which will include cigar lounges, green spaces, parks trails, outdoor events, sidewalks, parking lots, and vehicles without minors in them.”
In Utz’s presentation, he showed some statistics between Alberta communities that have stronger smoking bylaws than others.
“We have taken a look at the smoking bylaw, and if they were ever desired, there are some minor clerical amendments that could be made, but nothing specifically of substance in that regard. When we look at our Cannabis Consumption Bylaw, it's shown to be more restrictive than many bylaws. There are, again, opportunities for minor clerical amendments, if so desired by Council.”
Before providing options for Council to choose from, Utz stated there is some research to indicate that regulations may have an effect on how often people choose to smoke. However, he said he would like Council to understand and acknowledge that during the pandemic, it has been very difficult to conduct research on the effects of the federal legislation. Utz and his team would likely need at least two years to know if federal legislation has had any further effect in terms of preventing people from smoking.
Utz brought forward multiple options to Airdrie City Council on how to move forward with the city’s bylaws:
Accept the presentation for information
Ask for an update on tobacco control measures, providing options and possible rewording of bylaws, estimating it would take until roughly the last quarter of 2023 to complete
Direct changes to smoking and cannabis bylaws to make them either more restrictive than they currently are or less restrictive, depending on preference of Council.
Explore options to address public health concerns, such as increased public education.
Implement a more publicly engaged strategy including residents and businesses for input on how to address public tobacco and cannabis use.
Provide direction as Council sees most appropriate.
After many of the listed options were dismissed, Airdrie City Council voted to accept the Smoking Bylaw and Cannabis Consumption Bylaw for information.
To see the full debate and Utz entire presentation, visit their Livestream.
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