City of Calgary snuffs out initial proposal for pot parks
Officials with the City of Calgary have decided to cancel the idea of setting up four public areas where cannabis users can light up because of the amount of public backlash over the idea.
Late last month, the city suggested four sites where cannabis users could freely use the soon-to-be legal drug.
The public lashed out against the proposal swiftly and some anonymous residents posted signs in Murdoch Park in Bridgeland, one of the four sites named by the city.
Images of the placards, emblazoned with pithy remarks such as ‘Don’t Doob It’ and ‘Weed Rather Not’ got a lot of traction online.
Matt Zabloski, project lead for the legalization of cannabis for the City of Calgary, announced on Wednesday that the four proposals would not advance to the approval phase.
"Ward 9 councillor Cara has decided not to continue to council on October 9. This decision was given after the careful consideration of more than 1,800 Calgarians who gave us feedback online and at the sounding boards at the proposed locations."
He says that engagement revealed support but also significant opposition.
"There was a variety of concerns that covered both nuisance and over concentration in one ward and impaired driving was another one," Zabloski says.
Ward 9 councillor Gian-carlo Carra says when he was first told about the idea of a cannabis park, he envisioned a diffuse network of areas throughout the city.
"We passed critieria for where we had to locate them, at the very tail end of July, and [it was] my hope that we would go to every community," he said. "What instead we got was we ran the numbers and it spat out four places in my entire ward where an area met the criteria."
He says a quarter of the people who responded during the public engagement period were supportive while a solid three-quarters or more was in opposition.
"The opposition really fell into three different categories; number one, you had people who were just against the legalization of cannabis and they were trying to re-litigate that issue. That, of course, was not before us. Number two, you had people who had specific issues with the specific sites that were proposed and a lot of those were very valid, thoughtul and accurate concerns. The third issue was that if you just had one or two or three spaces in a city this size, then you're just begging for issues of overconcentration. This is only really going to work if there's a diffuse network of these things."
Carra said that after consultation, he pulled the plug.
"If we look at this issue, we're going to have to look at it from a different angle."
He says that there needs to be a legal place to use a legal drug and the province will need to give a sense of when those are expected to come about and what they would look like.
Over 100 residents all signed a petition earlier this week to try and prevent the city from using Murdoch Park as a cannabis consumption site and about 150 attended a public meeting on the topic, with many of the protesters students at Langevin School.
The process, as it stands, is still available for a councillor to come forward but it is unlikely that there will be enough time to set up a public consumption area in time for October 17.