Town Council Opts In On Cannabis Retail Outlets

Council decision guided by feedback provided by residents and stakeholders

Collingwood, ON – At the Monday, January 14 Council meeting, The Town of Collingwood Council decided to “opt in” on the Province’s cannabis retail store legislation.

This decision will allow cannabis retail outlets in Collingwood, as regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), and will provide the Town with additional funding from the Province. Municipalities have until Tuesday, January 22, 2019 to decide to “opt out”.

Retail storefronts will be permitted in Ontario, effective April 1, 2019, however, only 25 stores will be licensed province-wide in Phase 1 for municipalities greater than 50,000 people. As such, retail stores will not be permitted in Collingwood during the first phase.

The Town sought out and received feedback on cannabis retail from the community through stakeholder consultations, an online public survey, written public comments, a Chamber of Commerce cannabis event, and a public hearing held on Monday, January 7. This feedback helped guide Council’s decision to opt in.

Over 1400 residents participated in the Town’s online survey, with 77% showing support to allow cannabis retail stores in Collingwood, while 22% opposed cannabis retail. 67% of respondents said they would prefer to purchase cannabis from a storefront, while 24% of respondents said they had no intention purchasing cannabis at all, and 5% said they preferred to purchase online.

“We appreciated the significant feedback from the community we received on this issue. The public has made it clear that they support local access to safe, legal cannabis in Collingwood. Private cannabis retail outlets will also create jobs and increase local investment,” says Mayor Brian Saunderson, “We will continue to review Provincial legislation as it evolves and have asked Town staff to look at ways to control consumption of cannabis, cigarettes, and vaping in public through our municipal smoking by-law.”

The Province has outlined that cannabis retail stores in Ontario cannot be located within 150 metres of a school, must be a standalone store, will be licensed and regulated by the AGCO, and cannot be further controlled by the municipality through business licensing or zoning. Council also delegated authority to the Director of Planning & Building Services to coordinate and submit comments to the AGCO within 15 days of the public notice for a retail store in Collingwood. Comments will be based on the Council approved Cannabis Policy Statement which includes a buffer distance from schools and parks of 200 metres, as well as buffering from other sensitive land uses.

The Town will continue to monitor the Province’s ever-changing legislative landscape on cannabis retail and consumption. The Town has banned advertising and sponsorship of recreational cannabis use or sales on municipal property and facilities, and at events. The Town is also investigating opportunities to strengthen municipal Smoke Free policies that will be presented back to Council later this year.