Pubdate: Wed, 21 Feb 2018
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 Times Colonist
Author: Tony Gioventu


Dear Tony: Our strata council is getting a lot of pressure from our 
owners to adopt a bylaw that prohibits use of marijuana and growing of 
marijuana plants. Several owners have already complained about the smell 
of marijuana in the building from several smokers, and we had to 
eradicate a grow-op back in 2004, costing our strata more than $75,000 
in damages that we never recovered.

What our council is struggling with is the question of how far we can
go with our bylaws.

Do federal and provincial laws override our ability to control what
happens in our building?

Denise M., Parksville

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Federal legislation determines what substances can be possessed and
consumed, the quantity that individuals can possess, and, if
permitted, how it is grown, managed, regulated and taxed.

Each province then has the jurisdiction to determine how distribution
will be managed and controlled.

We might also find there are local government bylaws that set specific
zonings or regulations for facilities that grow marijuana and how
local businesses market and distribute the products.

Strata corporations are essentially private property. You cannot
prohibit anyone from consuming marijuana, as it comes in many forms
that pose no nuisance to the community.

However, in most strata corporations, the main issue is smoking. Smoke
is a serious nuisance in many multi-family buildings, as the smoke
often migrates to other strata lots or common property and can
contaminate those areas.

Multi-family buildings such as apartments, connected townhouses or
high-rise-style buildings are rarely airtight. Any neighbouring smoke
or consumption that requires some sort of combustion will migrate to
other strata lots.

Your strata corporation is permitted to adopt bylaws that regulate
nuisances such as smoking and noise. The Schedule of Standard Bylaws
already has a nuisance bylaw that can be enforced. Your strata can
adopt a bylaw that simply prohibits all smoking of any substance
within strata lots and on any common property.

Those bylaws will continue to be enforceable.

Your strata corporation is not, however, permitted to prohibit or
restrict the use of substances or plants that fall under the
classification of medical purposes - even, potentially, if it involves
smoking. If an owner or occupant requires the medical use of
marijuana, the strata corporation is permitted to request valid
documentation to grant the exemption. This is both for the protection
of the strata corporation and the related strata lot.

There is an ongoing question for strata councils to consider. Is your
smoking or nuisance bylaw enforceable?

Strata corporations and managers are constantly borrowing bylaws from
each other and tweaking them to apply to their own needs, but the
limitations or changes they are adding to make them acceptable to
their owners often render them unenforceable.

Even with enforceable bylaws, strata councils are still failing to
follow the basic steps of bylaw enforcement, resulting in long, costly
battles between owners and their neighbours.

Spring seminars and workshops are an excellent opportunity for your
strata council to refresh its knowledge of bylaw enforcement and
application. Seminars will be held on May 8 in Courtenay, May 9 in
Nanaimo and May 10 in Victoria. Go to for details.
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MAP posted-by: Matt