Zoning the Key Issue of Cannabis Open House

The Town & Municipal District of Bonnyville received feedback and answered questions from the community on potential bylaws related to the upcoming decriminalization of cannabis on Wednesday.

The most important issue at the open house were the zoning areas which would prohibit the sale of cannabis close to schools, parks, hospitals, and businesses that sell alcohol and tobacco. Alberta Health Services recommends a minimum 100 metre distance, and so far council is split between a 150 metre zone or a 200 metre zone.

“It’s more the preference from distancing from parks and things like that,” said Bonnyville Mayor, Gene Sobolewski.

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“The implication is where you might be able to set up a shop. That’s really where the focus is right now because that seems to be the most information we have since it has to be a regulated facility that would sell this stuff.”

In January, council listened to a presentation from business owners Thya Savisky and Kyle Sargent to start a cannabis dispensary at their same location as their other businesses: Lakeland Arctic Spa and Cheap Smokes & Cigars. This feedback from the community, plus the readings to follow from council, could impact their hopes if they were to fall outside of the zoning area.

However, there is lots of uncertainty on how the federal and provincial government will treat cannabis criminally. In the meantime, said Mayor Sobolewski, all the town can do is prepare their bylaws as best as they can.

“It’s going to be a criminal code issue. If they [provincial government] treat it like alcohol then I think they’re waiting for the federal government to decide what exactly they’re going to be permitting. For example, they talk about the smoking, but they don’t talk about the medicinal or the ingestible. We look at it and say we’ll get some preparation together with our bylaws, we’ll go through the process and we’ll go as far as second reading, then we’ll wait for the province and the feds because we’ll likely have to make changes.”

After the future bylaw’s first reading, a public open house will be held where council can make revisions before second reading.

 

Other questions posed by council dealt with signage and advertising of a potentail cannabis dispensary.