With the date for the legalization of cannabis announced for this October 17, Lacombe residents will finally get a chance to share their thoughts with council on how The City should move forward with regulations around retail sales and production.
This week, city council gave first reading to a suite of cannabis-related bylaw amendments. A public hearing is scheduled for August 13 at 5:30 p.m.
“The upcoming legalization of recreational cannabis has a broad connection to municipal service levels, the impact of which will not be fully realized until the legalization is official,” says Mayor Grant Creasey. “I encourage everyone who wants to comment on this important issue to attend the upcoming public hearing.”
Council is operating based off a number of recommendations from the previously formed 'Cannabis Readiness Committee.'
As far as retail sales are concerned, the CRC recommends cannabis stores be a permitted use within the C1 Downtown Commercial District, C3 Transitional Commercial District and I1 Light Industrial District.
Cannabis retail stores should be a discretionary use, they say, in C2 Neighbourhood Commercial areas, as well as C4 Highway Commercial, C5 Shopping Centre, and DC2 Direct Control districts.
This is different from many other communities like Red Deer, Calgary and Edmonton which have employed setbacks to ensure retail cannabis stores are far enough away from areas where youth commonly are and from other cannabis stores and liquor retailers.
"We just didn’t see that level of restriction as being suitable and particularly in Lacombe where if we went with any sort of significant setbacks, say from daycares or schools, it would eliminate the downtown as a potential location," says Matthew Goudy, CAO. "This is somewhere many of the committee members feel is an ideal location. In general, the committee seemed to favour a more business-friendly and open market approach."
Some councillors floated the idea of having a restriction on the number of available permits, while another stated they'd be open to implementing setbacks. Those suggestions could come into play following the public hearing.
Meanwhile, commercial production and cannabis processing facilities are recommended as a permitted use in I1 Light Industrial and I2 Heavy Industrial, with the exception of the I1 land located at 40 Brownstone Road, where it should be prohibited, the CRC says. The CRC recommends they be discretionary in C3, C4, C5 and DC2.
All retail stores or production operations must obtain the necessary permissions from either the AGLC or the federal government.
Separate from what this bylaw amendment is addressing, the Cannabis Readiness Committee is also recommending a complete ban on consuming recreational marijuana -- as well as tobacco -- in any public place. A secondary recommendation advises The City should monitor provincial regulations for the consumption of cannabis at events or in cannabis lounges/gardens, which would likely be similar to how liquor licenses work.
The CRC also wishes The City to improve community awareness around existing substance abuse social support programs in Lacombe.
Maps of where it's being proposed for retail cannabis stores and production facilities be able to go can be seen on pages 41 and 42 of this week's council agenda.
More information is at Lacombe.ca.
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