Iqaluit city council to start work on local cannabis bylaw

Bylaw would likely regulate pot smoking at city properties, outside recreation facilities, public spaces


Coun. Kyle Sheppard at an Iqaluit city council meeting on Tuesday, April 10. He said city council should start work on a bylaw to regulate cannabis. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)

Coun. Kyle Sheppard at an Iqaluit city council meeting on Tuesday, April 10. He said city council should start work on a bylaw to regulate cannabis. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)

Iqaluit city council should develop its own cannabis bylaw, Coun. Kyle Sheppard said this week.

“With the legalization of marijuana coming this fall, municipalities across the country are finding themselves needing to develop bylaws and legislation that deal with the consumption of marijuana on city properties,” Sheppard said at a council meeting on Tuesday, April 10.

“I don’t think we’ve done anything to deal with that … we need to have a discussion and provide some direction to administration to develop a bylaw to deal with marijuana,” he said.

Such a bylaw should include the regulation of cannabis smoking near city recreation facilities.

And ideally, such a bylaw would be in place by the fall, he said.

“It’s going to take us two months to pass a bylaw, best-case scenario,” he said.

While they’re at it, the city could use its cannabis regulation work as an opportunity to update or more strictly enforce tobacco use bylaws in the municipality.

Mayor Madeleine Redfern said the city will ask its staff to gather details and do research on cannabis legalization.

Once that’s done, cannabis regulation could be discussed further at a planning and development committee on May 8, Redfern said.

She noted also that municipal bylaws have to comply with territorial laws.

That means the city won’t be able to complete a bylaw on cannabis until after the Government of Nunavut reveals its own cannabis legislation.

“Whatever model the government chooses, there are going to be some impacts on where people smoke, whether it is cigarettes or cannabis,” she said.

As president of the Nunavut Association of Municipalities, Redfern also said that Nunavut municipalities in the territory will discuss how to efficiently update bylaws in each community.

As for tobacco use, Coun. Jason Rochon said the city should focus on enforcing rules that already exist.

“We could be working on making sure that our bylaw is enforced when it comes to smoking,” Rochon said.

New cannabis regulations would only create more rules that are not now enforced, Rochon said.

Right now, the Nunavut Tobacco Control Act says smokers must be at least three metres away from the entrance of a public building and 15 metres away from a school entrance.

“I think our children need to be able to walk into stores in a smoke-free environment and not have smoke blown around them,” he said.

But Deputy Mayor Romeyn Stevenson, while in favour of discouraging smoking around city workplaces and recreation facilities, wanted to know what a change in public smoking rules would look like for Iqaluit.

“The logic behind that is sound … In practice, how do you see it playing out?”

He said he doesn’t like to see people smoking outside of the aquatic centre or near schools in the city, but said this doesn’t change how people are legally allowed to smoke tobacco.

“If employees smoke and they work in our buildings where do they go?” he said in a question for Sheppard.

Sheppard said he didn’t have that answer and that council would have to come up with options together.

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