SOUTH STORMONT, Ontario – After brief discussion during their second official meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 12, the new South Stormont council decided to opt-in on having retail cannabis stores in the municipality.
South Stormont is the first municipality in SDG to officially vote to opt-in.
Peter Young, Community Planner for the Township of South Stormont, outlined three plausible options to council in regards to the action request but recommended that council opt-in. Young briefly outlined background information on legalization and legislations, as well as important dates and retail store location guidelines.
“The province has set up the application process for a license which is very similar to (acquiring a) liquor license,” said Young.
Councillor Woods was the first to express her uncertainty, admitting that she wanted to learn more about the possible advantages and disadvantages before making a decision.
In response, Deputy Mayor David Smith expressed his keen support of permitting the retail stores in the municipality.
“If I had to make a decision today I would say opt in,” said Smith. “My concern would be if we don’t jump on it sooner or later, that (provincial funding) money may not be available…we have so little time (to decide).”
“Although the funds that are going to be offered to the municipality are quite nominal, in my impression, I think that our neighbouring municipalities are likely to opt-in as well…we need to keep in mind that this product is now legal and our residents who choose to purchase this product are going to purchase it somewhere,” added Councillor MacIsaac.
Councillor Guindon proposed that the public be consulted on the decision and that council propose encourage discussion online. Councillor Guindon also concurred that by permitting retail stores in the community, the black market will likely further be eradicated.
OPP Cst. Jim Blanchette, Community Mobilization Officer, was in attendance and agreed with this sentiment.
Mayor Bryan McGillis said that he had done extensive research on the topic and believed that permitting retail stores in the municipality would be beneficial for the community in terms of taxes and providing safe options for residents.
Council unanimously voted in favour to opt in on permitting cannabis stores in the community, with intentions to seek public consultation and further discuss the action request before adopting all according policies.
“Moved by Councilor Guindon, seconded by Councilor Woods, the council opts in to permitting retail cannabis stores in the Township of South Stormont and instructs staff to post a draft Township of South Stormont Cannabis Retail Application Review Policy on the township website for public consultation,” said Loriann Harbers, CMO, Director of Corporate Services Clerk for thr Township.
All municipalities in the province must opt-in or opt-out of the initiative prior to Jan. 22, 2019. Applications for licenses will be accepted beginning next Monday, December 17. Recreational Cannabis Retail stores are set to open their doors in the province as soon as April 1, 2019.