The City of Langford is following suit with the Capital Regional District when it comes to bylaws addressing where cannabis can be smoked.
Langford council voted in December to amend its parks and traffic bylaws to account for cannabis use.
In the park regulation bylaw, it is now stated that smoking or vaping cannabis is not allowed on or in a park, beach, open space or trail.
The traffic bylaw now says “no person shall smoke or vape cannabis in a public place or on a highway unless that person is on a portion of sidewalk that is more than 20 metres from school property; seven metres from any doorway, window or air intake of a building; seven metres from any intersection or crosswalk; seven metres from a bus stop measured from the bus stop sign.”
Smoking is also prohibited 20 metres from any park or other area established by the City for the purposes of community recreation; and 20 metres from a retail store that sells cannabis.
Langford Mayor Stew Young said council was just matching what the regional district was doing as part of a “housekeeping thing.”
“We’re harmonizing so everybody is playing by the same rules,” Young said.
Young added council recognizes and respects that cannabis is now legal. He said they don’t plan on over-penalizing people for using it but they need to ensure that basic principals of safety, especially when it comes to children and schools, are followed.
The City plans on hiring a community liaison officer as well, said Young, to help educate children and parents about cannabis. The City recommended candidates for this position to the province four months ago, but Young said they haven’t heard back yet. Part of that, Young said, is because the government moves slowly.
“We assumed it would be a 30-day approval,” Young said.
The delay in response from the province since legalization took hold on Oct. 17 is frustrating, Young added.
Cannabis retailers looking to set up shop in Langford haven’t been approved yet.
Additionally, Young said the City is not receiving any funding for the liaison officer or for educational components surrounding cannabis. He hopes retailers, once up and running, will help pay for some of those costs.
“If it becomes a negative to have a bunch of pot stores in your community that costs local taxpayers money, well that’s not the model Langford wants,” Young said. “We’re going to make sure that we have enough support or partnerships and agreements in place with local dispensaries to make sure they pay for the cost of education and police liaison officers in schools.”
Langford Coun. Lillian Szpak said the bylaw amendment will also help the city make sure they can respond to cannabis legalization “in a way the public expects us to.”
Szpak said she thinks the way Langford has dealt with legalization so far has been “groundbreaking,” as council sought out cannabis retailers that would be the most advantageous to the city in respect to taxes and partnerships.
“We’re being open for business but we’re being socially very responsible,” Szpak said. “We’re covering all our bases in that way.”