August 2018 Newsletter
Greetings Ward 14!
August is the one month of the year where Council does not meet, but I can tell you I will be keeping busy travelling all over Alberta for AUMA and Enmax board meetings. At the moment Council is grappling with more big ticket items than I can ever remember in my eight years as a Councillor. We’ve got the Olympics, arena talks, cannabis legalization, city charter stuff, the Green Line, and budgeting for the next four years on our plate, so I will gladly take a little spare time from Council meetings to prepare myself.
2019-2022 City Budget
This "big ticket item" might not get as much attention (which I am trying to change), but it is every bit as important as the others. I will be speaking about it extensively over the next few months. Until then, I urge you to familiarize yourself with calgary.ca/ourfinances, and let me know what you think.
On April 5, Council approved bylaw changes to facilitate the retail sale and consumption of cannabis. On April 24, the City of Calgary began accepting cannabis store applications. We have had to react quickly to the changes coming from Ottawa, but now we at least have a legalization date. October 17, 2018 may not be long to prepare, but at least now there is some certainty.
When I wrote about cannabis in my May column I mentioned that the City of Calgary is responsible for dealing with the land use bylaws associated with the sale of cannabis, and creating bylaws that regulate public consumption. To say that we have opted to treat cannabis similarly to the way we treat alcohol is the simplest way to describe our approach.
But the legalization process is ever evolving, and we have amended that initial bylaw to evolve with it. Namely we have considered designated consumption areas, and exemptions for festivals and events.
Designated Consumption Areas
Council approved a suggested process for identifying and allowing designated consumption areas around the city in which cannabis may be smoked, vaped or otherwise consumed in public. These areas would be exempted from the regulations in the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw, which prohibits public consumption in all forms.
The suggested process would allow for initiation and involvement from the Ward Councillor and residents of each community in which a designated cannabis consumption area might be located. Designation would occur through a Public Hearing of Council.
At this time, there are no proposed designated cannabis consumption areas, however Councillors may direct Administration to investigate potential areas in their ward. The viability of potential designated spaces would be measured through criteria which address providing suitable, defined spaces while also considering the overall well-being of communities.
Designated cannabis consumption areas would be identified through signage as well as easily recognizable infrastructure. Areas would be equipped with waste receptacles, tamper-proof ashtrays, and would be confined to a defined radius. The Chief Bylaw Enforcement Officer may temporarily suspend areas should there be safety or nuisance concerns.
Events and Festivals
Council approved an exemption from the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw for festivals and events. The exemption allows for a fully monitored cannabis consumption area that is separated from main gathering areas.
Each application will be reviewed by The City of Calgary’s Interdepartmental Events team composed of representatives from Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission and more than 20 City business units including Recreation, Corporate Security, Police, Fire, and CEMA.The City’s Chief Bylaw Enforcement Officer would approve or reject applications based on the event’s ability to meet requirements. The Chief Bylaw Enforcement Officer may impose conditions, suspend or revoke permits.
Festival attendees will have the opportunity to consume cannabis in a viable, defined area without the concern of being ticketed.Potential impacts to youth and festival goers who wish to avoid exposure to cannabis will be reduced.
Administration will monitor the impact of the exemption for a full festival season and will report back to the Standing Policy Committee on Community & Protective Services in Q4, 2019 with results and recommended adjustments.
It is much easier to loosen regulations than it is to tighten them, and when public health is concerned I would rather err on the side of caution at first. That is the stance that I have taken, and will continue to take. You can find more detail on this topic at calgary.ca/cannabis.
New Summer Hours for Shepard Landfill Throw n’ Go
The Shepard Landfill Throw 'n' Go will accept waste from residential customers Tuesday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until October 28. The Throw 'n' Go accepts household chemicals, paint, electronics, appliances, tires, yard waste, separated construction and demolition materials (asphalt shingles, drywall, construction lumber), and garbage that is too bulky for your black cart. For more information, visit calgary.ca/landfill.
-Councillor Peter Demong