Pubdate: Wed, 22 Nov 2017
Source: Metro (Calgary, CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Brodie Thomas
Page: 10


Landlords hope for Human Rights Act exemption

Alberta landlords are asking the province to nip possible human rights
cases in the bud when it comes to cannabis use in rental properties,
but the province doesn't see that happening.

In a letter to the province, the Alberta Residential Landlords
Association asked the province to revisit the residential tenancies
act. The group is also asking for an exception to the Alberta Human
Rights Act to make sure the right to prohibit cannabis smoking and
growing is crystal clear.

Sherri Doucette, past president of the ARLA, said they want the rules
to be clear before cannabis is legalized in 2018.

"We think clarity is the most necessary thing so it's clear what rules
landlords can make and enforce," said Doucette.

The group is seriously concerned that if this isn't addressed, a
tenant could launch a human rights complaint arguing for their right
to grow or smoke cannabis.

"Once something is legalized, does it create the right of access?"
asked Doucette. "Obviously there's issues regarding medical marijuana
in particular in that regard."

She said smoking in particular can have an unwanted affect on
residents in adjacent buildings.

"How do you protect the rights of all your tenants, and the rights of
perhaps the person who needs to utilize medical marijuana, and how is
the law going to help us with that?"

However, the province doesn't believe that human rights will be an
issue as far as recreational use goes.

In a written statement from the Alberta Cannabis Secretariat, they
indicated that they believe existing regulations about tobacco smoke
will apply to cannabis just as well.

"These existing tools have the ability to prohibit cannabis-related
activity on a property," read the statement.

"As we move towards legalization on July 1, 2018, we'll continue to
educate landlords, renters and condo boards on the options available
to them."

Doucette isn't convinced those rules will apply. She noted that
age-restrictions were allowed on buildings until just recently, when a
human rights complaint forced the province to change the regulations
on those.

But the right to consume medical marijuana could still be a human
rights issue, according to Sharon Polsky, vice president of the Rocky
Mountain Civil Liberties group.

She said it could get messy if building owners had differing views on
smoking pot.

"It would leave an everchangeable patchwork of tenancy requirements
imposed at the will of the building owner.

She wondered what would happen if a building changed ownership, and a
new owner decided to impose a zero-tolerance policy where the previous
owner had allowed growing or consumption.

"I wonder if this proposal would even be constitutional to allow the
blatant discrimination of individuals who are smoking marijuana for
medical purposes," said Polsky.

She said that matter is already settled.
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