Campgrounds set to enforce pot policies as camping season gears up
With campgrounds in provincial and national parks preparing to open over the May long weekend, Parks Canada is reinforcing its message about where campers can use recreational cannabis.
Usage at both provincial and national parks is restricted to rented campsites only. That’s because, under federal laws, occupied campsites are considered temporary dwellings.
Smoking or vaping won’t be allowed in common areas like beaches or walking trails or inside any roofed accommodation – such as an oTENTik tent -- within the park.
The restrictions apply to both recreational and medical cannabis users.
This camping season marks the first year that cannabis consumption is legal and Ed Jager, the director of visitor experience for Parks Canada, says the rules will be enforced.
“You can consume cannabis at your campsite and you can’t consume it anywhere else in the park,” says Jager.
Those who are caught consuming cannabis in common areas will be asked to go to a place where consumption is permitted.
“Or we may then work with the local police force or with our park wardens to address the situation,” he warns.
Outdoor enthusiast Travis MacLeod loves spending time in nature and enjoys taking his family camping. When asked what he thinks about cannabis use being allowed in certain areas this camping season, he admits he hasn’t given it much thought.
“It’s a matter of trying to remain considerate of everyone in the park, whether it’s alcohol or cannabis,” says MacLeod.
Nova Scotia traditionally bans alcohol in the first six weeks of the camping season. This year cannabis will be included in the ban.
Sandra Fraser, a parks promotion and development officer with Nova Scotia Lands and Forestry, says the ban will be lifted July 2.
“We just want it to be quiet and enjoyable for all of our campers and visitors,” Fraser says.
For the most part, private campgrounds in Nova Scotia will adhere to provincial regulations as well, with one private campground owner telling CTV News they encourage their campers to behave in ways that respect one another.
There are almost 100 provincial parks in Nova Scotia and 20 of them have campsites.
Most campgrounds open for the Victoria Day weekend, though some open in June.
According to a news release from the province, Nova Scotia’s campgrounds are growing in popularity. The 2018 season saw 82,422 camper nights booked, an increase of five per cent over the previous year.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Heidi Petracek