Fort Saskatchewan city council has put off making a final decision about a cannabis smoking bylaw already months in the making.
After hearing from some concerned speakers at a recent meeting, council unanimously agreed to refer the bylaw back to administration for another look. The move will give city staff time to add rules on medical cannabis use and tobacco smoking to the draft bylaw, changes that could potentially see a complete smoking ban put in place.
"I think this delay is really an opportunity for people here in the community to really voice their opinions," said councillor Deanna Lennox.
The cannabis issue originally took priority in the development of local smoking regulations as the city worked to keep up with pending federal cannabis legalization.
"And the direction of council last night was that we would really prefer it all be together as one, as opposed as trying to catch up with the other down the road," Lennox added.
The proposed bylaw, which passed first reading in May and also sets out rules for vaping, limits the consumption of cannabis to private property but does not place restrictions on the medical consumption of cannabis, a situation Les Hagen of Action on Smoking and Health called a “loophole.”
"We're very concerned about the medical user exemption, which we feel will lead to widespread abuse," said Hagen, who was at the meeting to push for tighter regulations. Hagen suggested council change the proposed bylaw to allow smoking and vaping only in designated areas. He said Action on Smoking’s biggest concern was that public smoking would be renormalized, reversing years of investment in anti-smoking efforts.
"To a five-year-old, smoking is smoking, whether it involves cigarettes or vaporizers or tobacco or cannabis," Hagen said. "The more we expose children to unhealthy behaviours like smoking, the more likely we are to see children develop unhealthy behaviours."
Jasmine Hasselback, medical officer of health for the Edmonton zone, shared some recommendations Alberta Health Services (AHS) has sent out to municipalities ahead of cannabis legalization, commenting that she was speaking from a public health perspective.
“The province set up pretty loose rules to give you a lot of flexibility, but it also puts a lot of responsibility into your hands. And we’re providing that evidence-based side of things,” Hasselback said to the councillors.
AHS recommends that cannabis use be banned in public places, particularly in areas frequented by children.
Lennox said council took Hagen’s and Hasselback’s concerns seriously.
“After hearing that information and hearing what my colleagues had to say, I decided to make a motion to refer it back to administration for the purpose of including the use of tobacco and also the accommodation of medical cannabis,” Lennox said.
Lennox said the city will also be looking at what the duty to accommodate means when it comes to deciding where medical use will be permitted.
“Some things that came out of the meeting last night were sidewalks and parking lots. And so we'll wait and see whether or not those designated areas are expanded or include other places within the city.”
The draft bylaw will come back to council in late August.

More Local News

Contamination in organics bins an early collection issue

Fort Saskatchewan residents are doing a decent job with the city's new waste collection program.

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect

Environment Canada has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the Fort Saskatchewan area.

Semi-truck catches fire outside of Gibbons

A truck driver was a part of a close call.

Potential downpour on the way for area

Up to 50mm of rain could hit Fort Saskatchewan and area this weekend.

Council finalizes decision on cannabis retail in the city

After seeking public input and hearing from concerned citizens, Fort Saskatchewan city council has officially decided where residents will be able to shop for cannabis in the fall.

Fish and Wildlife: bear safety important in Strathcona County

Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers have responded to a handful of calls about black bear sightings in Strathcona County this month.

Local teacher to retire after 43-year career

Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) teacher Celia Hayes is retiring.

Bon Accord gets new air monitoring station

Air quality will now be monitored in Bon Accord.

St. John Paul II School celebrates final graduating class

A group of Fort Saskatchewan teenagers made local history last Friday (Jun.15), walking across the Shell Theatre stage as the final graduating class of St. John Paul II Catholic School.

Local chef Beccy Stables wins MasterChef Canada, $100,000

A Sherwood Park teenager is now a MasterChef Canada champion. is Westman's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

Search the Biz Guide