Sudbury

West Nipissing town council scraps plan to control smell of legal cannabis

The Municipality of West Nipissing has decided not to outlaw the smell of legally-grown cannabis. Council voted down a proposed bylaw Tuesday night that would have required anyone growing cannabis to control the odour of the plants.

Several councillors want to see provincial or federal governments handle cannabis odours

Cannabis seedlings at a cannabis facility Friday, November 24, 2017 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

West Nipissing has decided not to outlaw the smell of legally grown cannabis.

Municipal council voted down a proposed bylaw Tuesday night that would have required anyone growing cannabis to control the odour.

"People are going to have to get used to the smell of cannabis. The same way we got used to the smell of asphalt and traffic and cars and stuff," said West Nipissing councillor Jeremy Seguin.

"It's going to stink at first and some people may not adjust to it very quickly."

Councillor Lise Senecal, who first put this idea on the table two weeks ago, said the rights of everyone need to be respected.

"You cannot tell people 'Well, deal with it.' Because that's not the way it's working," she told council.

Senecal argued that the bylaw would help to "avoid major confrontation in a neighbourhood" and compared it to existing rules against littering and noise.

She proposed the smell regulations after visiting a Sturgeon Falls neighbourhood, where she quipped that the odour was strong enough to give her a "buzz."

"I really got bashed on that [comment] and I want to apologize," Senecal said Tuesday. "It was an expression to express how strong the smell was that night."

West Nipissing Mayor Joanne Savage was one of a few to speak in favour of the new regulations, saying that "some type of leverage" would be good for municipal bylaw officers to have when handling complaints about cannabis odour. There were four last year.   

"And if it's never applied, it's never applied," she said. 

Councillor Dan Roveda said he felt mislead by what was presented to councillors two weeks ago when they asked staff to draft a bylaw.

"I regret this has caused pain and anguish to certain citizens of our community and therefore cannot and will not support this bylaw," he said. 

Seguin called the proposed bylaw a "pre-emptive attack" aimed at "demonizing" the smell of cannabis and warned that it could lead to legal challenges which "could be very expensive" for the town.

Several councillors said they'd like to see the provincial or federal governments pass a law to regulate the odour of the recently legalized plants.

About the Author

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca

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