Gananoque holds off on pot-smoking restrictions
Town council has delayed passing its no-pot-in-public bylaw until the provincial government clarifies the OntarioMunicipal Act.
In one of its final acts earlier this month, Gananoque’s council decided to treat cannabis consumption the way the government treats booze: If you can’t drink in public, nor should you be able to consume cannabis.
The town’s bylaw would prohibit, for example, people from strolling through town smoking a joint, which would be allowed under Ontario laws that treat cannabis the same as tobacco.
Town council endorsed the bylaw at a committee meeting three weeks earlier and it was poised to ratify it at its formal council meeting last week.
At last week’s meeting, however, Shellee Fournier, chief administrative officer, recommended that council hold off. TheOntario government has proposed amendments to its Smoke- free Ontario Act to allowmunicipalities to regulate cannabis smoking in public, she said.
In a report, Fournier said the town would still have the power to regulate cannabis use in public, but the legal references would have to be changed to reflect the government’s new regulations.
She recommended that council wait for the government revisions so that the town doesn’t have to change its bylaw twice.
Ontario’s finance minister and its attorney-general have reassuredmunicipalities that they will have the power to restrict smoking of cannabis in public.
The decision now will fall to an entirely new council that was elected on Ont. 22. It will be sworn in on Tuesday (Nov. 27).
In social media posts, some residents were cranky about council’s intention to restrict pot smoking in public. The bylaw would put Gananoque out of step with the rest of the province and might hurt tourism, they said.
Council had decided to treat pot like alcohol on the recommendation of Police Chief Garry Hull.