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Public tokers to be singed with fines in West Kelowna

West Kelowna passes bylaw to fine anyone that smokes cannabis in public $500

With marijuana’s legalization a day away the City of West Kelowna has put in the work to have rules and regulations in place in the nick of time.

Smoking marijuana in public will earn tokers a $500 fine if they are caught smoking pot anywhere other than on private property. As decided during the last council meeting on Oct. 9 where it was the only item on the council agenda after council directed staff in Sept. to amend the parks and public spaces bylaw.

“This is another big download from the federal government via the provincial government where we had to put the production, retail and public use of cannabis into a framework where we were ready for it,”said West Kelowna Mayor, Doug Findlater. “I will also say it may not be perfect but it is the best we could have done. I think that over time there could be changes due to a greater social acceptance of cannabis.”

RELATED: West Kelowna to limit pot shops to four

Coun. Carol Zanon referenced an article she read about municipalities work to create marijuana legislation before legalization.

“It’s similar to flying a plane while you are building it,” said Zanon.

Zanon says that the societal shift will be similar to that of when the prohibition was lifted on alcohol.

“I think this is exactly the right place to start with this new venture because it is similar to Prohibition on alcoholic beverages.”

West Kelowna staff noted that the legislation and bylaws created by the City of West Kelowna were being looked to by the province to use as a framework and example in the future.

Council adopted bylaw amendments to regulate retail sale of non-medical cannabis in West Kelowna during a meeting earlier this month to limit the number of stores in West Kelowna to four, two in Westbank Centre and two in Boucherie Centre/West Kelowna Business Park/Industrial Area.

RELATED: High times: optimism in Smiths Falls, the little town that marijuana saved

The application intake period will begin on Oct. 17 and end Jan. 2, 2019. Preference will be given to applications with:

· Commercial or industrial zoning and/or land use designation

· Required minimum separation distances from certain areas and facilities like parks, library and schools

· Building design, aesthetics and neighbourhood security

· Applications that define how nuisance activity will be managed

· Acceptable parking

· Municipal bylaw compliance history

Council agreed to set the application fee for site-specific rezonings at $7,500 and to restrict cannabis consumption to private places only.

Currently cannabis sales are not allowed in West Kelowna.

The next West Kelowna Council meeting will be Nov. 6, the inaugural meeting for the new council voted in on Oct. 20

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