Rich­mond Hill to ban cannabis use in pub­lic

Coun­cil votes unan­i­mously to ban va­p­ing and smok­ing cannabis in parks, side­walks

Richmond Hill Post - - News - by Jes­sica Wei

Dur­ing a spe­cial coun­cil meet­ing on Oct. 18, the day af­ter cannabis le­gal­iza­tion came into ef­fect in Canada, Rich­mond Hill Town Coun­cil unan­i­mously passed a by­law to ban the smok­ing and va­p­ing of cannabis in all pub­lic ar­eas in the town, in­clud­ing parks, side­walks and trails.

Chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer, Town of Rich­mond Hill, Neil Garbe, gave coun­cil two op­tions. First, the cur­rent fed­eral and pro­vin­cial en­force­ment model, which leg­is­lates cannabis un­der the ex­ist­ing Smoke Free On­tario Act, per­mit­ting both cig­a­rettes and cannabis smok­ing and va­p­ing in pub­lic ar­eas in­clud­ing parks away from play­grounds and on side­walks.

The sec­ond op­tion is to pro­hibit cannabis in all Smoke Free On­tario Act lo­ca­tions and in ad­di­tional lo­ca­tions through a sys­tem of fines, as the City of Markham did two days pre­vi­ously in their own spe­cial coun­cil meet­ing.

Coun­cil­lors were pri­mar­ily con­cerned about en­force­ment: who would be en­forc­ing it, the amount of town re­sources it would take to cover the en­force­ment, as well as how to en­sure that medic­i­nal users could still ex­er­cise their rights and free­doms, be­came stick­ing points.

“If we can’t im­ple­ment it and the po­lice aren’t able to re­spond be­cause they have more se­ri­ous emer­gen­cies to ad­dress, then how do we deal with it?” in­quired coun­cil­lor Vito Spatafora.

Garbe ex­plained that, un­der the new by­law, in­di­vid­u­als caught smok­ing in pub­lic would be con­sid­ered non-emer­gency. One would call a gen­eral num­ber and ask for en­force­ment, much like im­ple­ment­ing a noise com­plaint. An­other chal­lenge Garbe’s team iden­ti­fied was the cost of ed­u­cat­ing, train­ing and hir­ing new by­law of­fi­cers. Un­der the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will re­ceive $10,000 ev­ery year for the first two years.

In the end, coun­cil voted the more re­stric­tive by­law through but with some hes­i­ta­tion.

“Is this by­law go­ing to just merely pay lip ser­vice to us en­forc­ing what needs to be en­forced?” said coun­cil­lor Karen Cile­vitz. “That will only be played out as time moves on.”

How­ever, al­though ev­ery coun­cil­lor be­lieved that cannabis use should be lim­ited to pri­vate res­i­dences, sev­eral pointed out that more pub­lic in­put would be needed.

“I think we do need to pro­vide more clar­ity to both sides of this de­bate as to what’s ac­cept­able and not ac­cept­able,” said coun­cil­lor David West. “I’m un­der no il­lu­sion that this is a per­fect so­lu­tion.”

I’m un­der no il­lu­sion that this is a per­fect so­lu­tion.”

Rich­mond Hill CAO Neil Garbe

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