Condo towers are seen under construction in an aerial view, in Richmond, B.C., on Wednesday May 16, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Condo boards should set out rules before cannabis legalization: lawyers

Homeowners groups need to quickly establish rules for marijuana growing and consumption in an effort to nip any problems in the bud, say lawyers who specialize in property law.

Homeowner groups need to quickly establish rules for marijuana growing and consumption in an effort to nip any problems in the bud, say lawyers who specialize in property law.

Robert Noce, a partner with Miller Thomson LLP in Edmonton, said the most common troubles in condominium, townhouse and other mixed-use properties will likely be the smell of smoke and potential mould from growing cannabis.

“I suggest that you have an absolute prohibition of smoking and/or vaping in the units and on property, together with an absolute prohibition on the growing of marijuana in the units,” Noce said.

A majority of condo boards, he said, have been amending their bylaws ahead of Oct. 17 when recreational marijuana becomes legal in Canada.

Different provinces have different rules for smoking, and growing cannabis plants at home for personal use.

In British Columbia, almost all condos already prohibit smoking of cigarettes, said Tony Gioventu, executive director Condominium Home Owners’ Association of British Columbia.

“So smoking or cultivation with marijuana is an easy modification for most buildings.”

He said the same rules that are applied to cigarettes can be applied to marijuana, adding that a “vast majority” of condos will adopt bylaws that prohibit growing and smoking cannabis in their private homes.

“B.C. is quite far ahead with lifestyle bylaws,” he said.

Local laws in Alberta are to be followed for cannabis consumption, and growing cannabis is limited to four plants depending on restrictions from landlords.

In Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Northwest Territories smoking will be allowed on private property and in private residences, but landlords can restrict cultivation and smoking.

Related: WestJet bans some staff from off-duty cannabis use

Related: B.C. business makes a mint on cannabis extraction equipment

In Prince Edward Island cannabis use will be restricted to private homes. In Quebec, marijuana can be smoked where cigarette smoking is permitted.

Rodrigue Escayola, a partner with the law firm Gowling WLG in Ottawa, pointed out that while the federal government is responsible for legalization, it’s been left to provinces, municipalities and condo boards to make their own rules.

A majority of condo owners in Ontario want their boards to regulate marijuana use and growth, Escayola said.

“They want some certainty and they want to know that they will be protected against nuisance.”

He said condos, generally speaking, are moving towards a smoke-free environment, and legalization of cannabis is simply accelerating that.

The challenge for homeowner groups is balancing the greater common good with property rights, he said.

“We say that someone is the king or queen of their homes and when you’re in your home you can do as you please,” Escayola said.

“This is a very strongly rooted principle in law,” he said. ”A person’s home is their castle. In a condo complex, the castles are so close to each other. This is what the struggle is.”

Escayola said condo owners might ask what’s the difference between growing cannabis or tomatoes and question why strict rules are needed.

Marijuana plants require a lot more water, heat and light, which are drawn from the common grid, so everyone’s utilities are affected, he said.

Spores cling to drywall and plants are usually grown to harvest, dry and smoke, which increases the risk of fire, Escayola added.

But all rules should be reasonable and medical marijuana should be accommodated, he said.

People using medicinal cannabis need to be able to explain to their condo boards why they need to smoke rather than consume edibles or oil, and also why they need to smoke inside their units.

“At some point it will have to be determined whether or not it is discriminatory to prevent smoking when there are so many options out there.”

Escayola said the longer condo boards wait to establish rules, the more accommodations they are likely to have to make.

“Put your best foot forward first always. You can undo a rule later.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Local authors at the 7th annual Kootenay Book Fair

Eight local area authors were on hand at the Seventh Annual Kootenay… Continue reading

League responds to Kootenay ICE rumour

Contrary to reports out of Winnipeg, no announcement is coming Monday, says WHL

It’s the last day to vote in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots must now be dropped off in person to meet the deadline of 4:30 p.m.

City to apply for wildfire mitigation funding

The city is pursuing a grant opportunity to tackle wildfire mitigation in… Continue reading

Krebs named Kootenay ICE captain

Peyton Krebs has been named the 23rd captain of the ICE franchise

VIDEO: This B.C. school leads country in vaccine donations to UNICEF

Federally funded Kids Boost Immunity uses quizzes to earn vaccinations

Canadian physicist collects Nobel Prize

Canada’s Donna Strickland is one of three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics.

BCHL players help Team Canada in shootout win over U.S.

Massimo Rizzo scores the shootout winner at World Junior A Challenge

Canada Post backlog, Greyhound exit creating headaches ahead of the holidays

The federal government forced members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers back to their jobs late last month

Top EU court rules UK can change mind over Brexit

Britain voted in 2016 to leave the 28-nation bloc, triggering a two-year exit process

Boeser scores 3, Pettersson has 5 points as Canucks hammer Blues

Vancouver picks up impressive 6-1 win in St. Louis

B.C. police stop drunk driver who offered up burger instead of ID

Roadblock checks over the weekend found at least two other impaired drivers

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Earthquake recorded west of Vancouver Island

No injuries or tsunami warning after 5.4 rumble felt off the coast of Victoria

Most Read