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

Valley SPCA overwhelmed with 45 cats taken from local property

Many of the cats have never been around humans, or have never been touched or handled.

BIG READ: The two sides of the Strait of Georgia roe herring fishery

The case for the Strait of Georgia roe herring fishery Comox fisherman,… Continue reading

Applications open for record bursary, scholarship funding at North Island College

Current and future North Island College students can now apply for scholarships… Continue reading

Second Stage Players present laughter and love in We Are Family

Get your tickets early to see the Evergreen Club’s Second Stage Players’… Continue reading

Verdict gives murder victims’ parents sense of closure

A guilty verdict delivered earlier this week was “like a weight lifted off the chest.”

VIDEO: Can you believe it? This B.C. hill pulls cars backwards up a slope

Sir Isaac Newton had clearly never been to this Vernon anomaly when he discovered gravity

Comox Valley Hospice Society finds new Ocean Front home

Comox Valley Hospice Society (CVHS) recently announced plans to construct a new… Continue reading

Paramedic staff shortage at critical level: B.C. union

A number of units were out of service due to lack of staffing in Lower Mainland, union says

B.C. lottery winner being sued by Surrey co-workers

They claim he owes them $200,000 each, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

Fraser Health under fire again for taxiing homeless man from Langley to Hope

Patient sent to Hope shelter because a spot in the man’s home community couldn’t be located

Dead sea lion discovered on Hornby Island shoreline

Reports indicate animal was shot in the head

Celina Caesar-Chavannes quits Liberal caucus, sits as independent MP

The Whitby, Ont., MP has been a vocal supporter of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott

Woman punched on the sidelines of B.C. soccer game

Both involved were watching the U21 game in West Vancouver from the sidelines when things got heated

Catch-up immunization aims to stamp out B.C. measles resurgence

Vaccination records to be checked at B.C. schools next fall

Most Read