City report recommends Guelph council to approve cannabis retail stores
A report going to city council later this month is recommending retail cannabis stores be permitted to open within Guelph starting on April 1, 2019.
The province has given Ontario municipalities until Jan. 22, 2019, to opt out of having private storefronts operate within their boundaries.
In their report, city staff believe the best course of action is for Guelph to opt in.
The report said the city will not be responsible for licensing and regulating the pot shops. Instead, that will be left up to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
The AGCO already has rules around hours of operation and distance buffers of 150 metres between each store and schools.
Despite not having much say over where the stores can go, the city can provide comments about each licensing application, but the AGCO is not bound by those comments.
City council will have the power to pass bylaws further restricting the consumption of cannabis and tobacco on top of what’s already covered by provincial legislation.
Right now, Ontario residents are essentially allowed to smoke recreational cannabis wherever smoking tobacco is permitted.
Whether city council votes to opt in or not, Guelph will receive $141,661 from the province in January as part of $15 million that has been set aside for all municipalities.
If council votes in favour of opting in, Guelph will receive a second payment from the province in March, but it’s not known what that will amount to.
The report also said that if provincial tax revenues exceed $100 million, municipalities that opt in will receive 50 per cent of the surplus.
Enforcement will primarily be left in the hands of Guelph police and the AGCO, however, the city is also looking to bylaw officers as well.
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The report said provincial legislation allows for bylaws officers to enforce illegal sales in order to alleviate some of the pressures on police services.
The report will also include the results of surveys conducted in Guelph which showed the majority of residents do want retail cannabis stores.
An online and telephone survey conducted by the city showed 65 per cent of respondents support having retail cannabis stores in the city.
The newly-formed Guelph City Council will vote on the matter during a meeting at city hall on Dec. 17.
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