City council approves retail cannabis regulations

By Josh Hall (Twitter: @Vancan19)
May 14, 2018 - 9:16pm Updated: May 14, 2018 - 10:07pm

Regulations for retail cannabis locations are now in place for Red Deer.

Monday night, city council granted second and third readings to bylaw amendments which establish 300 metres as the minimum distance between retail cannabis locations, allowing for up 35 stores across the city at one time.

For comparison, there are currently 32 liquor stores in Red Deer.

“It’s very fair to say we’ve done the best we possibly could with the timelines we were given,” Mayor Tara Veer said referring to the July 1 deadline for the City to have rules in place. “Had the federal government given us more time to come up with a bylaw and time to implement, we would’ve seen more subsequent public consultation.”

Waiting for the province to table their legislation, Veer noted, made the City’s timeline even tighter.

At a public hearing held April 16, 60 people were in attendance with the handful who spoke saying 300 metres would be too restrictive from a business perspective. One person even called 300 metres outrageous. There was also an online survey conducted to get feedback from citizens with 1,474 people responding.

Following the public hearing, council asked administration to come back with further research. Veer feels that report struck a good balance.

“Because it was difficult to find strong consensus around which direction to move, it was imperative for council to take that balanced approach,” Veer went on. “The bylaw is not overly prohibitory, nor does it necessarily open it up to every district in the city.”

Under the newly-approved regulations retail cannabis will not be permitted in industrial areas, mainly because that’s where microbreweries are already located.

Once legalization is made official and the federal government sign off on retail cannabis, The City of Red Deer’s bylaw will carry these provisions:

- 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

In contrast, Calgary is implementing just a 10 metre separation from daycare facilities. Meanwhile in Edmonton, retail cannabis stores can be 200 metres away from each other and they only have to be 100 metres from liquor stores, drinking establishments and microbreweries.

The province set out minimum 100 metre separations from schools and hospitals.

Council agreed to revisit retail cannabis regulations in 14 months.

Monday’s vote was a 5-3 decision, with councillors Michael Dawe, Tanya Handley and Frank Wong voting against the bylaw amendments. Vesna Higham was absent.

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