South Glengarry opts in for cannabis stores

South Glengarry council votes to opt in for recreational cannabis stores within its boundaries during a meeting on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

LANCASTER – South Glengarry is opting in to allow retail cannabis stores within its municipal boundaries.

An actual decision wasn’t expected during last week’s meeting (Dec. 17) but councillors were ready to act before the Jan. 22, 2019 deadline in order to give potential lottery entrants enough time to apply.

“I don’t want to get in the way of private enterprise selling a legal product that is deemed legal by the federal government. With the parameters that the province is putting in place, I fell opting in is a direction I feel comfortable with,” Deputy Mayor Lyle Warden said.

Coun. Martin Lang added that he was prepared to move ahead because if council left it to the day before the deadline it would be “tough on local businesses” to get in on the lottery.

“I don’t see any advantage to postponing it (the vote),” Coun. Sam McDonell said.

The provincial government is only giving out 25 licences in the first round – five in Eastern Ontario, which includes Ottawa and Kingston – making the likelihood of a cannabis store in South Glengarry a one-in-a-million chance.

Township planner Joanne Haley says the municipality has received a lot of calls about the subject – none of them negative. “I’m not received one negative call. I’ve not had one person call me to say it shouldn’t be allowed,” she explained.

“I haven’t heard a lot of negative either, Joanne. It’s been pretty positive in the community,” Coun. Martin Lang said.

South Glengarry will be receiving $7,584 from the province next month – money to compensate for increased costs related to cannabis. The township anticipates those costs will be policing, the health unit for enforcing the Smoke Free Ontario Act, as well as the fire department and EMS for first response calls.

In the meantime, the township will now develop a policy for cannabis retail in South Glengarry, though the scope of its say is very limited given that it’s a federally and provincially regulated industry.

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