The rules for growing and smoking cannabis should be a priority for condo boards, says an Edmonton lawyer.
Roberto Noce, a partner at Miller Thompson LLP and a former city councilor, is urging condo boards to consider amending their bylaws to address cannabis to avoid future challenges before it’s federally legalized this summer.
“Boards should, at minimum, take time to explore the issue,” he said. “They may not to choose to do anything, but they may want to explore options.”
At the moment it’s not known how odors travel between units, so Noce said condo boards should think about how they will impose controls for possible problems arising from the smell. Simple solutions to possible odor include prohibiting the use and cultivation of cannabis on condo properties, which would keep buildings at today’s status quo.
Condo buildings that have commercial units should consider whether they’ll restrict cannabis stores from opening as well, Noce added.
Proactive boards revising rules before summer
Some condo boards are already thinking about how they’ll handle cannabis. Shauna Warwick of Phillips Lofts, a 105-year-old downtown condominium on 104 Street, said her condo board banned the smoking of any substance in 2015. Last Monday, her board approved a motion to bring forward another rule change to prevent the growing of cannabis, which will likely be decided on in the next couple weeks.
The residents in Warwick’s building are generally in favor of the restrictions, she said, although three units were still grandfathered permission to smoke.
“You get some people that are saying that you’re violating their human rights … (but) you can’t take away everyone’s right to fresh air,” she said.
The restrictions also improve the building’s fire safety and makes it more attractive to potential unit owners.
Noce said condo boards that wait to regulate cannabis after legalization risk having to grandfather permissions to units.
They also might have trouble getting the required support — three-quarters of owners in favor — to change their rules after cannabis is legalized.
Smoke odor can be an expensive issue to fix, Noce said. In 2014, he acted for a St. Albert condo owner who had cigarette smoke leaking in from another unit. The condominium board refused to fix the leak, but the courts sided with owner. The building had to fix its ventilation, costing “hundreds of thousands” of dollars.
“(Condo) owners must decide what kind of people they want to live in the building,” Noce said.