CORNWALL, Ontario – In a narrow vote of 6-5 Council passed a policy to allow legal pot shops in Cornwall except in areas within 150m of a school or mental health centre.
The original recommendation to Council from City administration was that marijuana vendors not be allowed within 150m of schools, mental health centres, childcare centres, libraries, youth facilities and hospitals.
Administration consulted the Downtown Business Improvement Area, who stated they felt that the policy was too restrictive.
“I presented that opinion to our committee and the committee continued to feel that this policy was correct for Cornwall,” said City of Cornwall General Manager of Planning, Development and Recreation Mark Boileau. “If we look at the map today, and if you look at the concentric circles from those buffers. It does restrict the ability for a vendor in the downtown considerably. I think it is best to be conservative for now.”
Councillor Eric Bergeron concurred with the DBIA.
“I think we are treating cannabis different than alcohol. I don’t support this,” said Councillor Eric Bergeron. “I would support a motion with schools as being the only restriction.”
Councillor Carilyne Hebért put forward an amendment to the motion to include mental health centres.
Boileau said that the exclusionary zone for pot shops around schools is a provincial mandate that the municipality cannot change. He also pointed out that the closest school to the downtown is Central Public on Second St. and Amelia St. which is roughly 150m from the vacant lot downtown on the corner of Pitt St and Second St.
Mayor Bernadette Clement felt that Council should have gotten involved in the development of this policy earlier.
“I see that Council also wants to participate in the elaboration of this policy,” said Mayor Clement. “I feel uncomfortable that there wasn’t more council input in the elaboration of this policy. I take full responsibility for that. I should have seen this coming.”
Clement ultimately voted against the policy.