Central Huron opts in for cannabis outlets - Dec. 20, 2018
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Central Huron Council is planning to opt in to allowing legal cannabis retail stores throughout the municipality.
Council made the decision at its Monday night meeting after a short discussion on the matter. The motion approved now directs municipal staff to prepare a bylaw to officially opt in that would be considered at council’s next meeting on Monday, Jan. 9, 2019.
Deputy-Mayor Dave Jewitt first proposed the motion selecting to opt in (council was given the option to either opt in or opt out). The motion was then seconded by newly-installed Councillor Michael Russo.
Once the motion was put on the floor for discussion, Councillor Alison Lobb suggested that council should exercise caution. If a municipality opts out, she said, there would always be an opportunity to opt in later. Meanwhile, however, if a municipality opts in, it then can’t ever opt out.
Councillor Marg Anderson was also dubious on the issue, saying that she would advise council to wait for some other municipalities to opt in first and see what kind of experience those areas have with legal cannabis retailers.
Councillor Adam Robinson, however, said he didn’t see how the impact of approving a retail cannabis location would be any different than having a liquor store or a brewery in the municipality, both of which Central Huron has.
On the contrary, he said, opting in could be an opportunity for jobs to be created in Central Huron. Russo agreed, saying that opting in would send a clear message that the municipality is “open for business” and that it might attract people to the municipality who may not have considered it previously.
Jewitt agreed, saying that opting in would essentially be the equivalent of being “shovel-ready” for a cannabis retail operation and he thought that sent a positive message to those who may want to consider it as a business option.
He also said that if problems were to arise as a result of Central Huron being home to an outlet he felt that the community could rise to the challenge of solving it together.
Mayor Jim Ginn also spoke in favour of opting in, saying it would be another factor in attracting people to Central Huron.
He said that if Central Huron doesn’t opt in and Huron East, for example, did, then people would be bypassing Central Huron on their way to Huron East.
Robinson said that Central Huron is already home to a Beer Store, a liquor store and several craft breweries, not to mention the Gateway Casinos Clinton at the Clinton Raceway, so it only made sense.
He also said that he was under the impression that the outlets would be heavily regulated, so “not just anyone” would be able to open one. He said it would likely take a good amount of capital investment and government approval to open an outlet, which also put him at ease.
Council passed the motion and the motion to officially opt in to allowing cannabis retail outlets in Central Huron will be considered at the Jan. 7, 2019 meeting. The motion will then be passed on to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario regardless of which way council ultimately chooses to vote.