The new Cobourg Council held their first public meeting Monday evening in the Concert hall at Victoria Hall. The unusual location was chosen to accommodate the expected crowd but only about 50 showed up. The meeting was to engage with the public on whether Cobourg should opt-in and allow retail Cannabis stores in Cobourg although it seems that initially only 25 will be licensed in all of Ontario. The meeting was chaired by Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin and started with speakers giving information on the issue and its impact. Town Clerk Brent Larmer gave background information (as provided in an earlier post), Ashley Purdy talked about the engagement with the public, Deputy Police Chief Paul Vandegraaf gave the Police perspective and Catherine MacDonald spoke about health issues.
The information provided was not much different than provided in the written reports as given in the previous post.
Highlights of Presentations
Ashley Purdy said that the total number of participants in the online survey was now over 3400. In response to a later question from Adam Bureau, she said that although people could find ways to vote more than once, it was possible to delete extra votes using additional information collected on voters (using IP addresses). As of Dec 18 at 11:30 am, of 4000 respondents, 67% want to opt-in. For the first weeks of the survey it was consistently 80% opt-in but over the last few days the number of participants is rising fast and the opt-in numbers are going down. Makes me wonder if there’s a special interest group trying to change the results. However, this survey is only one of the inputs.
Paul Vandegraaf gave a lot of details on the impact on the Police of the change in the law but said that he believed that the Cobourg Police were ready and that it would have little impact. The Police were now trained on using the “Standard Field Sobriety Test” (SFST) to check drivers but did not expect any noticeable difference in work load. He said that they would need a search warrant to check if people were growing more than the allowed 4 plants each. See his full presentation in the links below.
Catherine MacDonald from the Halliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit spoke about health issues – the impression she left was that using cannabis was mostly not good – especially for anyone under 25.
Seven people from the audience made submissions – 5 in favour and two against:
Maria who with her husband operates the Ecig Flavourium (Vaping products), was the most passionate and detailed in her support. She likened selling cannabis to selling vaping products and said that regulations will ensure there are no problems. She gave examples where marijuana had helped with medical issues – notably PTSD. She suggested there should be an advisory board of independent citizens and complained about Police inaction on 7 instances of illegal marijuana activity.
Other speakers supporting Opting-in mentioned that we already have a cannabis plant here, that it’s arguably no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, that it’s useful in treating PTSD/Shellshock and that concern about being located near schools seemed unnecessary given that we have an LCBO store near the William Academy. One citizen mentioned that legal stores help with education which is sorely needed and provide safe access.
Of the two opposing speakers, Gerry Bourne said that stores did not need to be in Cobourg – “they can be found elsewhere” – and that they would attract the “wrong people” although I think he admitted to being a user. He also pointed out that if Cobourg Opted-out, they would benefit from the experience of others and could opt-in later if needed.
Warren McCarthy was not actually against so much as undecided. He wanted a “maybe” decision. He asked Councillors to each give their position but chair Suzanne Séguin said that that would be available when Councillors debated the issue at the next Council meeting.
In summary, Mayor John Henderson repeated that the issue would be debated at the Committee of the Whole meeting on January 7 and a final decision would be made at the regular Council meeting on January 14. He also said that we can expect more Public meetings using the Concert hall to provide extra audience space – especially for major issues. The online survey would remain open until January 2. All 7 presentations are available online (video – not printed) – see the Facebook video of the meeting here.
- Cobourg Police Service Cannabis Public Meeting
- More Info on Retail Sales in Cobourg – 15 December 2018 – read this as well as above for the full picture