The topic of retail cannabis stores in Halton has been a hot one since cannabis was legalized in Canada on Oct. 17. Some may even argue that retail cannabis stores have been a hot Halton topic even before legalization.
This conversation is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Since cannabis was legalized in Canada, Ontario chose to allow recreational cannabis to be sold online through the Ontario Cannabis Store and in privately operated retail stores.
The location and operation of these private stores will be under the control of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). This private retail model is set to launch on April 1, 2019.
However, the province is allowing municipalities to make a one-time decision to opt-out of having these stores.
This decision must be made by Jan. 22, 2019.
Municipalities that opt-in to allowing retail cannabis stores will not have the option to opt out later, however, they will get funding in order to assist with the legalization of cannabis.
On the other hand, municipalities that choose to not allow retail stores may opt in later but will not be eligible for funding.
Here’s where Halton stands on retail cannabis stores.
On Dec. 17 at a council meeting, the city’s direction on cannabis was discussed. However, the city has decided to wait until the new year to decide whether it will be opting in or opting out of having retail cannabis stores.
“I support opting in to stores to give residents access to this product, eliminate the black market, and receive some government funding to assist with enforcement,” Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said in a recent press release.
“However, there are many factors to consider before making any decision and I recognize there are a variety of views in the community.”
Greetings residents, this is John Bkila, @MariannMeedWard’s new Media Specialist and Community Liaison, taking over the Mayor’s Twitter account for tonight’s council meeting on the city’s direction on #cannabis. Stay tuned. pic.twitter.com/hJogiZVVXU
— Marianne Meed Ward (@MariannMeedWard) December 17, 2018
The city has launched an online survey, that can be found at www.getinvolvedburlington.ca, for residents to provide their input.This survey will be open until 5 p.m. on Jan. 10.
The decision will be made by the Committee of Council during a Committee of the Whole meeting on Jan. 14.
The decision as to whether retail cannabis stores will be coming to the Town of Oakville has also yet to be decided.
Council is, however, asking for feedback from residents.
“Please share your thoughts and concerns with Town Council on whether Oakville should be opting-in or opting-out of having cannabis retail stores in our community,” Mayor Rob Burton said in a recent press release.
“We value your opinion and want to make an informed decision when we consider a report and vote on January 14.”
On Jan. 14, 2019, council will be debating this issue and wants to hear from residents.
Oakville residents are invited to share their opinion at the council meeting and can register as a delegate by emailing [email protected] or calling 905-815-6015.
The meeting will be held in the Halton Regional Centre Council Chamber, 1151 Bronte Rd., in Oakville, at 7 p.m.
The Town of Milton is so far the only municipality in Halton that has decided on whether it will be opting in or out.
And that decision, for now, is that Milton will be opting out of having retail cannabis stores.
“Cannabis is here to stay, but for me right now the unknowns and potential negative effects on the property tax base have me concerned,” Milton Mayor Gord Krantz said in a statement.
“When the province addresses concerns raised by municipalities, Milton will revisit the opt-out decision.”
Halton Hills will also be deciding in the new year.
Residents can share their thoughts using thetown’s online engagement platform, haltonhills.ca/letstalkhaltonhills.ca.
In addition to the online survey, the municipality will obtain input at various sites throughout Town in early January.