Following a public hearing on Monday, October 22, Elk Point Town Council approved two bylaws regarding cannabis consumption and production.
The Cannabis Land Use Bylaw Amendment (Bylaw 776/18) permits the sale of cannabis in the C1 Central Commercial District (downtown retail area), and permits the production and distribution of cannabis in the C2 Highway Commercial District. Cannabis retail sales sites must be a minimum of 100 m from a school, health care facility or daycare, and at least 100 m from any other cannabis retail site. As CAO Ken Gwozdz explained, the bylaws are restrictive so that there is no retail in residential areas or near places where children gather.
Council chose to identify the land use as ‘discretionary,’ which means that before any cannabis related business can be opened the town will give notice to neighbours who may appeal the location.
The Cannabis Consumption Bylaw (Bylaw 777/18) prohibits smoking, vaping or consuming what appears to be cannabis in any public place within town limits. Exception is made for anyone with a medical document, provided the document can be produced. Personal cannabis plants on private property must be contained away from public access in a secure structure or in a secure fence. Cannabis being transported in a vehicle must be in closed packaging out of reach of all occupants. A person who is guilty of an offence is liable to a fine in an amount not less than $287 but not exceeding $10 000, and to imprisonment of not more than six months for non-payment of a fine.
The public hearing provided an opportunity for town residents to ask questions and get clarification. Wade Haynee lives along the highway and expressed concern related to security if a retail sales establishment opened near his home. “I’m not opposed to it, I just wanted to see the guidelines,” he explained. “If somebody would like to set up, I would like to know that.” He is content with the discretionary aspect of the bylaw.
Local realtor, Shirley Harms, emphasized her desire that Elk Point remain family friendly. Many municipalities are choosing not to establish bylaws, but Harms wants assurance that if there are complaints then there are procedures. She said, “I represent a lot of clients in Elk Point and I am here to be informed.”
Harms also expressed fears about safety. “Cannabis is known to change a person’s behaviours. You can smoke three packs of cigarettes a day and still have the ability to drive,” she said, but if someone smokes the same amount of cannabis, they will be seriously impaired. Councillor Debra McQuinn confirmed that the town is treating cannabis as an intoxicant and intends to deal with it in the same manner as alcohol.
Final readings were given for the bylaws following the public hearings and the bylaws were passed.