Lacombe City Council is continuing to prepare for the October 2018 legalization of cannabis.
In Council Chambers, Council gave first and second reading to Bylaw 461 which, when enacted, will establish a smoking bylaw regulating the use of both tobacco and cannabis in Lacombe.
Diane Piche, the City’s new corporate services director, said that many of the proposed regulations of the bylaw, available to read at lacombe.ca, still require consultation and amendment.
“What is proposed at this point is that we will start to prohibit smoking of tobacco in public areas such as parks, playgrounds and trails,” she said.
Included in those prohibited areas is all public property including the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex, the Lacombe Memorial Centre (LMC) and City Hall.
Initially, prohibition of smoking was set to 5 m away from entrances — however Council chose to extend that distance to 10 m.
Currently, the bylaw doesn’t include sidewalks, however Piche said the 10 m zone means many sidewalks, including those in front of parks, such as in front of the LMC, would be prohibited.
What is not currently clear is whether the City’s trail system will be prohibited.
“We are going to review that,” Piche said. “A lot of this will be around the enforcement of how we can do this and a lot of it will be ensuring citizens are educated and informed that when they get on a path, there is signage or there is something proper to inform them of prohibition.”
Included in the current form of the bylaw is the inclusion of 155 signs at the cost of $5,400, however, Councillor Cora Hoekstra suggested more public education will be necessary.
“We are going to try to do different means of it with various ads, various information with media — we could be doing all sorts of things,” Piche said. “Education for our citizens will be the first goal to ensure they understand what is required and what isn’t.
“We want to explain the reasons why something like this would be enforced.”
She added that voluntary compliance with the bylaw is the ultimate goal and that a progressive system of warnings will be in place with ticketing as a later resort.
“That is the way we always like to work it,” she said.
Another concern of Council was the various jurisdictions involved including the school boards, the Lacombe Police Service and the various condo boards that govern multi-family dwellings in the City.
Piche said the City will continue to consult with all these groups before the final reading of the bylaw and that everyone will know their proper role.
It was established at Council that condo boards can set their own regulations regarding the use of both tobacco and cannabis on their property.
Piche said it was important to get this bylaw in place before cannabis legalization, as the City was previously working off the provincial Tobacco Smoking Reduction Act
“We don’t have a bylaw in place, so this is what will take over for that,” she said.
The final reading of the bylaw is scheduled for August 13th, 2018.