Cannabis may be legalized soon but the options for partaking outdoors may be limited.
Sylvan Lake plans to ban cannabis consumption in any public area, a move City of Lacombe is also considering.
The sweeping prohibition is along the lines of alcohol rules, which is banned in public places under Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission regulations.
Likewise, under a proposed bylaw given second reading on Monday smoking or consuming cannabis will be prohibited on any government-owned public property as well as in public places, which is privately or publicly owned but where people are routinely welcomed, such as a mall or store parking lot.
Those who break the rules and smoke or consume in a public place face a first-time offence fine of $250, increasing to $500 and to $1,000 on third and subsequent offences. Similar fines are set for cannabis consumption on private property where a sign prohibits smoking or consumption, or on any town-owned property, including roads and sidewalks.
Third and final reading for the bylaw is not expected to happen until official cannabis legalization in October.
The bylaw is similar to one passed by Calgary city council earlier this year and that Lacombe is looking at.
Sylvan administration raised concerns earlier that taking such a strict approach to cannabis consumption could prompt a legal challenge. But council opted to go ahead.
“We’re just going to see how it goes,” said town communications officer Joanne Gaudet. “We have identified a couple of other communities that have taken the same route.”
The bylaw allows exceptions for those using cannabis for medical purposes, said Gaudet. Proof the cannabis is prescribed is required and those wishing to smoke cannabis will be referred to the town’s recently updated smoking bylaw.
That bylaw bans all forms of smoking in parks, playgrounds, school properties, child care facility properties, sports fields, skate and bike parks, outdoor theatres, outdoor pools and splash pads.
Outdoor smokers must stay five metres away from public entrances or exits, an increase from a previous three metres.
Gaudet said since the province has turned over cannabis consumption regulations to municipalities rather than setting provincial rules there will likely be variations on what is allowed.
“It is going to be different from municipality to municipality,” said Gaudet. “The public will just have to get used to these different municipal regulations.”