With marijuana legalization on the horizon, Terrace City Council started updating four existing bylaws on Aug. 13 in preparation, including a measure that goes one step beyond provincial recommendations to ban the smoking or vaping of cannabis and tobacco products in public spaces.
“They have not, on the provincial level, made the same mandate on smoking tobacco in public spaces but we recommend at this point that we include tobacco along with the vaping and smoking of cannabis,” said director of development services David Block, pointing to a similar move by the City of Victoria back in April.
“We acknowledge this will be very difficult to enforce, but so will the smoking and vaping of cannabis be difficult to enforce,” he said.
The bylaw will not prevent the use of propylene glycol, glycerin and nicotine-based vapour products from being used, although it was discussed during the meeting.
Block said it’s still unknown if nicotine vapour has the same health concerns as second-hand smoke, but that the key focus of the bylaw amendment is to address air pollution from tobacco and cannabis products.
“I don’t know if we really need to go to the point to say no vaping allowed in any public spaces,” Block said.
But he said moving forward with the bylaw amendment and having tobacco and marijuana smoke fall under the same bylaw can help reduce the presence of second-hand smoke overall.
“We felt it was a good opportunity to look at the harmful effects of tobacco, any smoke, any second-hand smoke, and for the City of Terrace to also include this at the same time.”
Smoking or vaping either cannabis or tobacco products will be prohibited three metres from transit shelters, bus stops, and other transportation spots based on provincial recommendations. If caught, an amendment to the ticketing bylaw will clear the way for fines of $200.
In addition to amendments to the parks and public places and ticketing bylaws, council passed amendments to the zoning bylaw in its first and second reading, where cannabis retail storefronts will be allowed in most commercial downtown areas. Marijuana stores will be kept 300-metres away from school properties, with a 100-metre buffer set up between similar businesses to prevent clustering.
The revisions for storefront cannabis retail sales will mirror the current liquor licensing process based on provincial recommendations, meaning the business will need a referral from the province’s management body, the newly named Liquor Cannabis Regulation Board, before obtaining a licence from the city. Any new application will go through a public hearing before approval. The city looked at other municipalities of similar size before deciding on a $500 annual licence business fee.
Adults will also be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants per household.
The zoning bylaw passed the second reading and will be shared with stakeholders for comment before a third reading. Final recommendations to the parks and public places bylaw, the ticketing bylaw and business licence bylaw passed during the city council meeting August 13 with implementation expected prior to October 17.