Public feedback speaks loud and clear to prohibit public consumption of cannabis in High River
At its regular meeting on September 24, High River Council heard what residents thought about the public consumption of cannabis in the community.
Throughout August and September 2018, the Town of High River conducted community engagement to learn how residents felt about allowing consumption of cannabis in public spaces.
“The findings of the engagement process were very informative and show the key opinions of respondents quite clearly,” says Peter Genereux, manager of emergency management and protective services with the Town. “Generally, most respondents did not want to see cannabis consumption in public spaces.”
The primary purpose behind the community engagement initiative was to address the upcoming legalization of cannabis and inform the creation of a Cannabis Consumption Bylaw.
“If the Town of High River does not bring a Bylaw into force prior to cannabis legalization, cannabis consumption in public spaces would be permitted because there would not be a local Bylaw prohibiting public consumption of cannabis,” says Genereux.
Additionally, the Town used the community engagement process to collect feedback on the current Smoking Bylaw, which had not been updated since 2003.
The overall results of the community engagement process indicated:
• 81 per cent of respondents were in favour of eliminating smoking at child and fitness-focused public facilities.
• 69 per cent of respondents did not want to see cannabis consumption in public spaces.
• 68 per cent of respondents were not in favour of granting an exemption for medical cannabis consumers.
• 51 per cent of respondents were in favour of a medical exemption following the Smoking Bylaw and 25 per cent were in favour of those with a medical exemption utilizing designated areas for public consumption.
Recommendations from the community engagement report were used to inform a new Cannabis Consumption Bylaw 4553/2018 and update the current Smoking Bylaw 4545/2018, which were both presented to Council as first readings after the results of community engagement were shared.
Following the first readings of the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw, Council directed Town Administration to schedule a public hearing for Oct. 9.
The second and final reading of the bylaw will also take place at that meeting.
The full community engagement report on the public consumption of cannabis is available on the Town’s website and provides details on the steps being taken to legalize cannabis sales and regulate public consumption at the Federal, Provincial and Municipal levels, including a full timeline of the legalization process to date.
The report also clarifies some facts and fictions about cannabis consumption in public spaces and provides analysis of the survey responses as well as the verbatim comments the Town received on the survey.
For more information on the ongoing cannabis legalization process, please visit highriver.ca/cannabis.