Edmonton

Cannabis legalization brings new signs, ashtrays to Whyte Avenue

The city of Edmonton will focus on education instead of enforcement when it comes to new cannabis and tobacco smoking rules. Starting Wednesday, smoking or vaping cannabis or tobacco will be prohibited within 10 metres of a bus stop, doorway, window or patio.

You can smoke cannabis on the southeast corner of Gateway Boulevard and Whyte Avenue

Starting Wednesday, smokers can light up in this green space at the southeast corner of Whyte Avenue and Gateway Boulevard. (Google Maps)

The City of Edmonton will focus on education instead of enforcement when it comes to new cannabis and tobacco smoking rules. 

Once cannabis becomes legal on Wednesday, smoking or vaping will be prohibited within 10 metres of bus stops, doorways, windows or patios.

That will severely restrict where smokers can light up in areas such as Whyte Avenue, where doorways and patios dot the sidewalks. To help Edmontonians learn the new rules prompted by cannabis legalization, the city is installing new signs and ashtrays along the avenue.

The fine for smoking too close to a doorway will be $250, but people might get warnings from a bylaw officer instead. 

"Since this is something new, it's not only new to citizens it's also new to our enforcement staff," peace officer Kevin Tomalty said. "Therefore, our approach is going to be education and voluntary compliance before enforcement." 

Public ashtrays bolted to sign posts around the city are being replaced with a new design, created by University of Alberta students.

The new ashtrays are sleek silver tubes with stub plates and two finger-sized holes at the top, where smokers can drop butts or roaches. The tubes can be pulled out and emptied by city cleaners, then secured again with a padlock at the back.

Our approach is going to be education and voluntary compliance before enforcement.- Kevin Tomalty, peace officer

Around 350 new ashtrays have been ordered. Of those, 138 will go on Whyte Avenue and 115 will be installed on Jasper Avenue. There are about 720 older-model ashtrays currently on city streets, and they will either be cleaned and moved or removed to make way for new ones.

The new ash trays have been placed farther from doorways due to the new smoking bylaws.

This new ashtray is at the southeast corner or Gateway Boulevard and Whyte Avenue, beside an area where cannabis smoking will permitted. (CBC/Peter Evans)

One area smokers can light up near Whyte Avenue will be in the green space on the southeast corner of Gateway Boulevard and Whyte Avenue. 

Edmonton Police Service Insp. Derek McIntyre said anyone unsure about where to smoke in the Whyte Avenue area can refer to the new signs, check the city's website in advance, or ask a police or bylaw officer.

McIntyre said there won't be increased police presence on Whyte Avenue on legalization day.

"I think like anything new, there's going to be patience and temperance from everybody involved, and I would consider that would include the police," he said.

"If we all just work on this together, we can get this launch of cannabis legalization done very smoothly, and in a way that maintains a lot of camaraderie within the citizenship of Edmonton."

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