Mayor wants to prevent cannabis use in core of downtown Grande Prairie –

Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given wants to prevent the consumption of cannabis along several blocks of the city’s downtown core once the drug becomes legal across Canada later this year.

Given raised the issue Tuesday during a meeting to review draft regulations on recreational cannabis use in the city.

Many municipalities across Canada are also grappling with how to deal with the legalization of cannabis on a municipal level and Given said his city is no different.

He said Grande Prairie intends to introduce tough bylaws that can be relaxed over time.

“It’s reasonable for us to take a higher standard of regulation and then work down from there, based on community reaction,” Given said. 

Education-based enforcement

The city’s enforcement manager, Chris Manuel, presented the draft regulations at an infrastructure and protective services meeting on behalf of a committee, which includes the RCMP,  tasked with creating cannabis bylaws for Grande Prairie.

Grande Prairie intends to pass tough cannabis bylaws that can be relaxed over time, said Enforcement Manager Chris Manuel. (Zoe Todd/CBC)

He covered public consumption, personal cultivation, business licensing and land–​use bylaws.

“We’d be naive to believe that a strict prohibition is just something that’s going to be adhered to,” Manuel said.

“We’re acknowledging that people should have the ability to access safe cannabis and the ability to consume it, but at the same time we’re not trying to encourage it.”

Grande Prairie will largely follow federal and provincial guidelines, Manuel said, with a handful of measures added by the municipality.

The committee proposed Grande Prairie follow federal law by allowing up to four cannabis plants per private residence but suggested the city add bylaws that require residents to apply for a permit, which would include stipulations such as keeping the plants away from minors.

Enforcement of the new rules will be on a case-by-case basis, Manuel said, with a focus on educating rather than punishing people

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