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Calgary council paves way for cannabis consumption zones

Calgary city council took steps towards helping out apartment dwellers who are worried about not having a place to smoke cannabis once it’s legal.

Council voted in favour of creating cannabis consumption zones around the city, so that tourists or anyone unable to consume cannabis in their residence will still have options.

At the same time, council approved allowing cannabis consumption zones for festivals.

Councillor Gyoti Gondek said she was not a fan of how administration was proposing to handle cannabis, but she said she also understood they didn’t have a lot of options.

“It puzzles me that we’re going to treat cannabis like it’s tobacco if it’s at a festival, like it’s some magical place that’s different, but everywhere else in the city we have to treat It like it’s alcohol,” said Gondek.

She asked administration to look at the Edmonton model, although that referral motion was defeated.

Edmonton city council voted to allow citizens to smoke in many public spaces, including on sidewalks where one might also smoke tobacco.

Other councillors expressed concern that Calgary was being far too uptight about the rules.

“Depending on what we do and what Edmonton does, we could have some extremely confused Albertans,” said Coun. Peter Demong, who added that it’s better to start with tighter rules that can be relaxed later.

Getting a public site approved for cannabis use will not be a simple task. Residents must first bring forward suggested spaces to a councillor, who can then decide if the suggestion has merit, or could be curtailed due to its location.

From there, the councillor will work with administration on getting the ball rolling. Administration will have to consult with other departments such as roads, transportation, and police on potential conflicts.

If those are cleared, public engagement and engagement with stakeholders will take place.

Finally, the area will go before council during a public hearing meeting, and if approved, signage will be erected marking the area as a cannabis consumption zone.