Council passes 200 metre buffer, separation for cannabis stores

By Tyler Marr
August 8, 2018 - 5:00pm

Cannabis retail stores in Prince Albert will be regulated 200 metres from schools and parks and an equal distance from each other.

City lawmakers finalized amendments to its zoning bylaw Tuesday afternoon to put the final touches on regulating where retail outlets, wholesale and production facilities will be allowed to open their doors this fall. Alongside the buffer zones, storefronts will further be confined to the downtown, service, arterial and highway commercial zones. Wholesale and production facilities will only be allowed to open in heavy industrial zones. These development permits will be discretionary use, meaning each will need to be approved by council before going ahead.

The rules were ushered through second and third reading 7-1, with only Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp opposed. 

Initially, the zoning amendments did not include required separation distances between stores, but the controls were slid in by Ward 7 Coun. Ted Zurakowski. 

“It is clear the province is not limited to the number [of stores at] two as the years go on,” he said. “It is only fair to the business community that as they come into the city, that they understand what restrictions are placed upon them.”

But Lennox-Zepp took issue with the lack of evidence to support the last minute addition to the legislation. 

“Maybe there is research that shows, perhaps, in the states, in the U.S., where legalization has already occurred, that this makes sense,” she said. “I am not aware of it…. I am just not aware of any evidence this would be a positive move over a negative move and I would like to have that before this is passed.”

She suggested, perhaps, it could be positive to have the outlets closer to one another for ease of policing, among other circumstances.

Mayor Greg Dionne, however, questioned the ease of finding this evidence and made note that, “Cannabis [legalization] is new to our country,” and how other municipalities have passed similar laws to help spread the stores around.

“Saskatoon did it because they have seven [stores] and they want them spread all over the city,” he said. “I don’t want them right across the street from each other. We have to make it convenient.”

With the passing of the zoning bylaw amendments, all that remains for local legislation around cannabis operations in Prince Albert is the passage of the Cannabis Business Licence Bylaw, which includes the priciest business licence fee thus far in Saskatchewan — $30,000 — and rules making The Gateway to the North the sole municipality to restrict operating hours from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Cannabis will become legal across Canada on Oct. 17.

 

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On Twitter: @JournoMarr

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