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Updates needed to region smoking bylaws

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

With recreational cannabis now legalized in Canada, Durham and other municipalities have had to update their local by-laws in accordance.

According to a report released by the region, the updated bylaw will remove any sections that are no longer applicable to today’s condition, and will include new requirements to address cannabis and any new forms of smoking and/or vaping.

The new bylaw will include any new locations where smoking cannabis will be prohibited, such as college and university campuses, regional and municipal buildings as well as their surrounding properties, and regional housing properties.

The use of water pipes and hookah will also be prohibited anywhere that smoking is prohibited.

Finally, the new bylaw will allow for enforcement of no smoking and/or vaping in any of the prohibited places by a number of designated officers throughout Durham.

The region began consultation on the topic of recreational cannabis with local stakeholders in July. Some of these stakeholders included Durham College, Durham Regional Police Services, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and the region’s the social services department.

Consultations with the social services department were regarding smoke-free long-term care homes, and more discussions will take place in 2019.

Other places the report indicates smoking of recreational cannabis will be prohibited include any of those already listed in the Smoke Free Ontario Act.

Recreational cannabis will be prohibited in places such as public washrooms, funeral homes, bowling alleys, hookah and vape lounges, and public transportation.

Any one who is caught breaking the new bylaw will be considered guilty of an offence, and if convicted will be liable to pay a fine of up to $5,000.

Because of the large number of changes to the bylaw, a recommendation is set to be put in front of the Health and Social Services Committee in 2019.

It will recommend rescinding the current bylaw, and approving a new regional smoke-free bylaw.