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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Owen Sound Marijuana Discussion Looms

Owen Sound | by Matt Hermiz  

Council to discuss opt-out at its next meeting as staff report comes forward

Owen Sound council is set to look at the future of private cannabis retail outlets in the city.

Director of Community Services Pam Coulter says more information has come from the provincial government concerning municipal funding and zoning regulations tied to legal marijuana.

Coulter says a report will come to council at its meeting on Dec. 17, next Monday.

Ontario municipalities have until Jan. 22 to decide whether or not to opt-out of allowing private retail cannabis stores to operate in their boundaries.

Coulter says the province has advised those who opt-in will no be able to opt-out at a later date. Meanwhile, if a municipality does choose to opt-out now, there is a chance to opt-in later.

However, the decision to opt-out does come at a cost.

She says the Ministry of Finance has sent a letter explaining Ontario cannabis legalization funds of $15-million will be doled out to all municipalities in the new year, based on number of households.

Additional dollars will then be allocated to municipalities in a second-round of funding, but capped at $5,000 for those who choose to opt-out of allowing retail cannabis stores.

Coulter says the funds are to help municipalities -- both at the local level and county level -- absorb potential costs such as: increased police, public health and by-law enforcement, responses to public inquiries, increased paramedic services, increased fire services and policy development.

She adds the province has indicated municipalities are not allowed to pass zoning by-laws to regulate the location of a retail cannabis store.

"Generally, they would be permitted in areas where retail stores would be permitted," Coulter explains.

Coulter says there is not a staff recommendation on whether or not to opt-out at this time, and the direction will be determined by council.

Unlike many neighbouring municipalities, Owen Sound has yet to undertake any public consultations on retail cannabis stores.


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