SBP seeks opin­ions about pot shops

Wiarton Echo - - NEWS - DE­NIS LAN­GLOIS

South Bruce Penin­sula is seek­ing pub­lic in­put be­fore coun­cil votes on opt­ing in or out of al­low­ing re­tail cannabis stores in the town.

Mayor Jan­ice Jack­son said coun­cil be­lieves it’s im­por­tant to con­sult with the com­mu­nity be­fore mak­ing the ìcrit­i­cal de­ci­sion,î which is sched­uled to hap­pen at the Jan. 15 meet­ing.

ìThe feed­back will weigh very heavy on our de­ci­sion for sure. There’s no ques­tion. It will make a big im­pact on what we de­cide to do,î she said Fri­day in an in­ter­view.

Coun­cil gave pre-bud­get ap­proval Dec. 18 to spend­ing $7,500 to re­tain Bang the Ta­ble, a com­pany that spe­cial­izes in com­mu­nity en­gage­ment ser­vices and soft­ware, to es­tab­lish the pub­lic in­put fo­rum.

The town’s new ìon­line com­mu­nity en­gage­ment toolî can be found at open­mic­south­bru­cepenin­

ìIt re­ally is a won­der­ful tool to reach out into the com­mu­nity. It will give us all kinds of data and specifics that we can rely on,î Jack­son said.

The plat­form now in­cludes sur­veys re­lated to per­mit­ting re­tail cannabis stores in South Bruce Penin­sula and de­ter­min­ing if fur­ther re­stric­tions are de­sired on smok­ing cannabis in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Town staff say in­for­ma­tion from the sur­veys will be pre­sented to coun­cil ìas part of their de­ci­sion-mak­ing process.î

The fed­eral Cannabis Act, which came into ef­fect Oct. 17, le­gal­izes ac­cess to recre­ational cannabis in Canada and con­trols how mar­i­juana is grown, dis­trib­uted and sold.

In On­tario, le­gal recre­ational pot will be sold only on­line un­til April 1. Af­ter that, the prov­ince has said cannabis sales will be per­mit­ted at pri­vate, re­tail stores that are li­cenced by the Al­co­hol and Gam­ing Com­mis­sion of On­tario.

The prov­ince is giv­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties a one-time chance to opt out of al­low­ing the stores in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils that want to opt out must make that de­ci­sion by Jan. 22. Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that do not hold a vote be­fore that date will be deemed by the prov­ince to have opted in.

Only 25 li­cences for re­tail cannabis stores will be is­sued ini­tially, via a lot­tery sys­tem run by the AGCO. The prov­ince has said no li­cences will be ap­proved un­der Round 1 for stores pro­posed in com­mu­ni­ties with less than 50,000 peo­ple.

All mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, re­gard­less of their de­ci­sion on the re­tail stores, are to re­ceive a first pay­ment from the On­tario Cannabis Le­gal­iza­tion Im­ple­men­ta­tion Fund. The com­bined fund­ing will be $15 mil­lion and al­lo­cated on a per house­hold ba­sis. South Bruce Penin­sula says it has re­ceived con­fir­ma­tion that it will get nearly $9,700.

Af­ter Jan. 22, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that have opted out will re­ceive a sec­ond pay­ment of up to $5,000, while the optin com­mu­ni­ties will share in an­other $15 mil­lion that will again be doled out on a per house­hold ba­sis.

Sev­eral lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have al­ready voted on opt­ing in or out of al­low­ing pri­vate re­tail cannabis stores. Owen Sound, for ex­am­ple, has opted in, while North­ern Bruce Penin­sula and Ge­or­gian Bluffs have both opted out.

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