Thursday, 21 June 2018 11:02

City of Swift Current to update land use bylaws to control location of cannabis retail stores

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The City of Swift Current plans to update its municipal bylaws to regulate the location of cannabis retail stores in the community.

City General Manager for Planning and Development Michael Ruus presented a report to a regular council meeting on June 18 to inform councillors of administration's intention to proceed with these bylaw changes.
“Zoning can be used to regulate cannabis-related land uses within a municipality,” he said.
“If a municipality does not want cannabis land use or uses in a particular zoning district, such as in a residential district, it can be omitted as a use. This would effectively ban the cannabis use or uses from that zoning district.”
The zoning changes has become necessary after the provincial government announced details on June 1 about the 51 cannabis retail store permits that have been issued to operators after a lottery draw.
Permits for two cannabis retail stores have been allocated to Swift Current. The successful applicants are Saskatchewan entrepreneur Kevin Tindall of the numbered company 102014474 Saskatchewan Inc. and the Alberta entrepreneur Celeste Gerber of Dreamweavers Cannabis Products Inc.
The successful proponents were required to start the permitting process within 45 days after the announcement and they must be operating their retail stores within 12 months of the federal legalization of cannabis.
Ruus noted that Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) regulations require that cannabis retail stores are standalone operations that can only sell cannabis related products and accessories.
“Other municipalities in Saskatchewan are allowing future businesses to locate in commercial areas,” he said.
“Given concerns about proximity to schools and other sensitive land uses, administration is recommending the two permitted locations be located with the new downtown core as a permitted use.”
City administration is also recommending that cannabis production operations, which include cannabis wholesalers and licensed producers, are allowed to operate as a permitted use in the heavy industrial district and as a discretionary use, which requires a council decision, in the light industrial district.
Councillor Ron Toles felt there are still many unanswered questions about the legalization of cannabis.
“I'm not really comfortable with the way this is coming down from the top to us and being dumped on us to make decisions,” he said.
Councillor Ryan Plewis shared this sentiment, but noted that the City has no option but to proceed with measures.
“There's a general lack of information and understanding about what's going to happen in these places,” he said. “The instruction left to us is to make the best of an unclear situation and to do the best that we can. All we can make a decision on at this point is where we want these facilities to be located. Regardless of what happens in them, I'm comfortable that these things not be located in residential areas.”
Mayor Denis Perrault informed the meeting that the two successful applicants for the retail store permits in Swift Current have already been in contact with the City, and he met with one of the applicants on June 15.
“So they're very eager after investing into creating a company and paying a $1,000 fee, in some cases 10 times, to at least secure a location where they can operate,” he said.
“We as a City, and you're exactly right, it's been force fed to us in no uncertain terms, but we have that responsibility to identify those areas. ... We have to be prepared. I can assure you the two proponents are very, very eager to secure that location in advance of what's coming next.”
Bill C-45, the federal government's legislation to legalize recreational cannabis use in Canada, was passed by the Senate on June 19. 
On Wednesday afternoon the federal government announced that the bill will come into force Oct. 17.

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Matthew Liebenberg


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