The Town of Bonnyville council passed the 150 metre no go zones for retail cannabis shops away from major public areas as part of the cannabis land-use bylaw on Tuesday.
That means cannabis shops shall not be located within 150 metres of schools, children’s recreational facilities, healthcare centres, and public parks or playgrounds. The province’s recommendation was 100 metres.
“The biggest thing is we passed it knowing full well that particularly the province is likely to make changes within one to three years as to how cannabis is dealt with,” said Mayor Gene Sobolewski.
“So our bylaw is very non-specific so that it will move forward with the legislation, so we shouldn’t have to constantly go back and do a lot of changes.”
Retail stores will only be allowed one wall-mounted or free standing sign. No shop is allowed to open in a residential area, and there must be a minimum 20 metre separation distance from residential areas.
A motion was made to add those same distance restrictions to churches, legions, and recreational facilities. But that was defeated after councillors decided to not go down the path of what defines each of these spaces.
Council also discussed limiting the amount of cannabis shops that could open in town, and preventing cannabis stores from opening beside each other. Neither of those ideas were adopted into the bylaw.
One important thing still has to be determined. Public smoking.
The town has not decided whether you’ll be allowed to smoke cannabis publicly. Sobolewski guesses that it will mirror the cigarette smoking bylaw. It’s the next item on the town’s agenda.
“The question that we’ve been asking the province is slowly being answered, but it’s also been slightly contradictory, is whether or not cannabis is going to be a regulated substance like alcohol or non-regulated like cigarettes,” said Sobolewski.
If cannabis consumption is non-regulated than the rules will be enforced by a bylaw officer.
“Municipalities like Bonnyville are going to incur some amazing costs because of the increased nature of bylaw enforcement.”
Earlier this week, Edmonton city councillors tightened their bylaws on public smoking, including cannabis, further limiting the places you’ll be allowed to light up. Fort McMurray decided to ban all public smoking of cannabis, as well.
“I think it’s going to take a little bit of debate from council, and be one of those that shakes the trees. But I do believe that within one-to-three years the province of Alberta will be passing regulations and this will likely be a regulated consumption like alcohol.”
Cannabis will be legal October 17.