Town seeks public opinion on recreational cannabis retail stores in Oakville

Tue, 18 Dec 2018

Share your thoughts between now and January 14

While recreational cannabis has been legal since October 17, people in Ontario are unable to buy it in a physical store until April 1, 2019. Town Council has until January 22, 2019 to make the decision to opt-out or permit these retail stores in town and are looking for feedback from residents between now and the January 14 Planning and Development Council Meeting when they will debate and decide on the issue.

“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,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “We value your opinion and want to make an informed decision when we consider a report and vote on January 14.”

The production, sale and use of recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada on October 17, 2018. The Province of Ontario has elected to allow recreational cannabis to be sold on-line 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), which is also responsible for regulating gaming and alcohol sales in the province. This private retail model will launch April 1, 2019.

Staff presented a report to Council last night highlighting some of the cannabis licensing regulations and information regarding retail cannabis stores.

The province is allowing municipalities to make a one-time decision to opt-out of permitting physical cannabis retail stores within their boundaries by January 22, 2019. Municipalities that choose to opt-out can opt back in at any time – but that decision is final.

If Council allows the stores, the AGCO will control the establishments’ licensing and operations. The province isn’t allowing municipalities to regulate the locations of cannabis stores through zoning rules, nor can it limit the number of stores in Oakville. The province is however, mandating a 150-metre buffer between the retail stores and schools. Stores must undergo a pre-inspection by the AGCO and display a provincial authorization sticker. Sales will be restricted to adults 19 years and older, and stores can be open between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. daily. The maximum number of stores per operator in the province has been set at 75. In the initial phase, only 25 licences will be issued to private retailers in Ontario for April 1, 2019 due to national cannabis supply shortages. A lottery system will be introduced by the AGCO to determine who receives the licences.

If the town opts out, individuals in Oakville will still be able to purchase cannabis online from the Ontario Cannabis Store, or from a cannabis retail store in a municipality that has not opted out.

The Provincial government has committed to providing $40 million to municipalities over two years to help with the implementation costs of recreational cannabis legalization. Additional funding will be provided to those municipalities who opt-in to hosting retail storefronts.

On January 14, 2019, Council will be debating this issue and wants to directly hear from residents on this matter. Members of the public are invited to share their opinion at the Council meeting and can register as a delegate by emailing townclerk@oakville.ca or calling 905-815-6015.

The meeting will be held in the Halton Regional Centre Council Chamber, 1151 Bronte Road in Oakville, at 7 p.m.

Residents can also email their feedback to townclerk@oakville.ca.

After Council members have heard from the public, reviewed the relevant data and debated the issue, they’ll decide if Oakville is in or out on storefront cannabis retail.

“There are many factors to consider and there are a wide range of opinions from members of the public. We want you to bring your questions, concerns, and opinions on this issue forward. Email the town, or speak to us on January 14,” added Mayor Burton.

Residents can learn more by visiting our Cannabis page. A further report will be available on the website on January 11, 2019.