Edmonton council passes tighter smoking rules as cannabis legalization looms

Edmonton city council voted to tighten restrictions on smoking Tuesday.

Tobacco and cannabis smokers will have to stay 10 metres away from building doors, windows, patios and bus stops under the amended bylaw. The new rules, which double the previous five-metre restriction, will come into force the day cannabis is legalized, Oct. 17.

“There’s no perfect answer to this. There’s just the best we can come up with at the time based on all the conflicting perspectives and input,” said Mayor Don Iveson, after voting in favour of the bylaw that passed by a 10-3 margin.  

“Bottom line we have a very straightforward bylaw that’s harmonized between tobacco and cannabis.”

The bylaw will also ban smoking on parkland, including playgrounds, sports fields and dog parks.

Mayor Don Iveson said he continues to put pressure on the provincial government to resolve questions around cost-sharing legal cannabis tax revenue. (CBC)

Councillors approved the same amendments to the city’s public places bylaw on July 10. The decision was reversed the next day, after Iveson suggested the public should have an opportunity to weigh in on the stricter rules.

City administration was then directed to survey the public and some business owners.

Nearly 70 per cent of the public respondents supported increasing the smoking restrictions from five to ten metres. Business owners surveyed in three business improvement areas — Old Strathona, Downtown and 124th Street — were more divided, with a narrow majority in favour of the increase.

“People smoking near our doors is already an issue,” wrote one business owner in the survey. “I am concerned about second-hand smoke impacting vulnerable staff and customers.”

The comments from business owners against the tighter restrictions suggested the bylaw would effectively ban smoking for several blocks in those areas. They suggested the new rules could also force people into alleyways and make it difficult for staff to identify who’s coming in and out of a bar or club.  

Coun. Ben Henderson brought a motion to keep the restriction at five metres, suggesting the city may be solving a problem that doesn’t exist given the lack of complaints about the current restrictions.

“I think there’s some really significant unintended consequences of this,” he said.

“When in actual fact the existing distance, if it’s properly adhered to, does what we’re intending to do, which is protect the non-smoker from the smoker.”

I think there’s some really significant unintended consequences of this.– Coun. Ben Henderson

The motion failed by just a single vote, with the mayor and five other councillors voting in favour, and seven councillors voting against leaving the five-metre restriction in place.

Coun. Michael Walters was in favour of the 10-metre rule, noting that council will have an opportunity to review the bylaw in early 2019 and make further amendments as needed.

“Time and time again, the public has been very clear with us that they want us to go as far as possible,” he said during the council meeting on Tuesday.

Coun. Michael Walters said the bylaw reflects the public’s demand to have stricter smoking regulations. (CBC)

The city says it will need at least eight more full-time peace officers to enforce the amended bylaw, contributing to the roughly $4 million the city estimates it will spend annually to cover the costs of legal cannabis. The provincial government has yet to provide financial support to municipalities for those expenses.

“That needs to get resolved because we’re already incurring costs. Property taxpayers are already on the hook,” Iveson said.

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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.


Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

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