City will appeal bong shop bylaw ruling
Mayor says he is trying to build a city for its youth
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Friday, Jan 18, 2013 05:30 pm
St. Albert will appeal a recent court decision striking down amendments to its business licence bylaw that make it more difficult for stores that sell drug paraphernalia to operate.
The city announced late Friday afternoon that it will appeal Court of Queen’s Bench Justice T.D. Clackson’s ruling that was released late last week. In it Clackson found the city had overstepped its constitutional bounds in enacting legislation, stating the amendments had the same effect as criminal law.
Only the federal government is allowed under the constitution to pass criminal legislation.
A news release announcing the appeal quoted city solicitor Gene Klenke as saying St. Albert was well within its rights to enact restrictions in its business licence bylaw. Regulating business, he argued, is a provincial power that the Municipal Government Act gives to municipalities.
City manager Patrick Draper said St. Albert owed it to residents to appeal. “There certainly is an option to appeal and we think the bylaw is a very good one,” he said.
Draper also said the city doesn’t think Clackson took all of the available facts into consideration. “We believe there are other cases that parallel this that were not taken into consideration,” Draper said.
Ron Smith, an employee of The Chad Smoke Shop 420, which has a store on Hebert Road, asked the court in May 2012 to rule on several amendments the city made to its business licence bylaw in April 2012.
Clackson overturned the amendments that restrict how many different kinds of products head shops can sell. Left untouched in his ruling are requirements to frost exterior glass and prohibit minors from entering.
Smith deferred comment to lawyer Aleksandra Simic, who represented him in the initial case. Simic said she couldn’t comment until she sees the city’s appeal, which must be filed by Monday.
Mayor Nolan Crouse wouldn’t comment on the appeal directly, but expressed his frustration that he feels the city’s objective – protecting young people from negative influences – was getting lost in the debate over whether or not these amendments are appropriate.
“Why is this lost that what council is trying to do is build a community for the youth? Why is this being lost?” Crouse said.
Crouse said he and other councillors have met many residents who have asked for some kind of restrictions on the operation of head shops in St. Albert. He pointed to meetings he and councillors had with businesses and parents of school children in Akinsdale in 2011 when the owner of a now-defunct head shop, Blitz 420, wanted to move his store to Appleyard Square. The subdivision and development appeal board ended up revoking the owner’s business licence as a result.
“They were pleading to make sure we do what can so that we don’t nurture a culture where it’s easy to sell paraphernalia. And as the mayor I took it seriously. I didn’t take it naively either,” Crouse said.
The Alberta Court of Appeal will hear the city’s argument at a future date. Draper said the city will hire an outside law firm to represent it.