Before long, the retail sale of cannabis will be a reality across Canada.
The Government of Alberta announced regulations for private cannabis retailers on February 16 and that the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) would start taking applications March 6. It was also announced cannabis could be sold via retail shops beginning in August.
On Monday, Red Deer city council began addressing this from a land use perspective.
Two bylaw amendments were given first reading, with public hearings to take place six weeks from now. The amendments are necessary because though municipal approval is not required for a private retailer to submit an application to the AGLC, a municipality must give approval through a development permit or license.
According to an administrative report, the amendments strike a balance between economic development opportunities and regulations to mitigate potential community concerns.
“Given the timelines we’ve been given to work under, I think this is a great start,” said Councillor Tanya Handley. “This is so very new for our country, never mind our city. We got to this point because we were forced to get to this point based off decisions from other orders of government.”
A number of Handley’s fellow councillors echoed her sentiments regarding administration’s ability to scrape together the report in a span of less than three weeks.
“When the federal government first moved down this track of legislation, the implementation date was anticipated to be July 1, 2018, and council had added our voice to the Police Chiefs of Canada and notably the provincial ministers who’d identified July 1, 2018 implementation as unrealistic from a government process perspective,” added Mayor Tara Veer.
“Municipalities have been put in the position of needing to move forward on substantial bylaw amendments without having a full picture of the information.”
If passed Bylaw ‘A’ would prohibit retail cannabis sales in all existing uses and districts.
Meanwhile, option ‘B’ provides for various setbacks from sensitive uses and offers 35 possible sites. It comes with the following rules for potential retail cannabis locations:
- Must be 300 m from provincial health care facilities
- Must be 300 m from K-12 schools, 100 m for post-secondary
- Must be 300 m from indoor recreation facilities
- Must be 300 m from other cannabis stores (to prevent clustering)
- Must be 300 m from daycares (is reciprocal to daycares if a cannabis store is set up first)
- Must not be co-located with the sale of tobacco and a number of other retail types
- Must not be in the district where Safe Harbour Society is currently located
- Can only operate from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Shall not be located next a drinking establishment or liquor store
- No person may ingest/consume cannabis on premises
- No outdoor storage
- No emission of odour
- Products in the store must not be visible from the outside
- Drive-through windows are prohibited
- Must have professionally installed and monitored alarm system
- Must have digital camera security system
- The business name must be prominently displayed at all public access points
A third bylaw was also on the floor for first reading. It would have offered 59 possible locations, but council opted to just receive it for information.
“We have had significant interest from members of the public,” said Erin Stuart, Inspections and Licensing Manager, on prospective retailers. “Probably upwards of 30 or so at this point and we do have a mailing list so we can provide those folks with up to date information.”
There will now be a joint public hearing on the two options on April 16.
Ahead of legalization July 1 and the opening of retail locations in August, city council will also tackle cannabis-related amendments in the License Bylaw and Smoke Free Bylaw.
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