At tonight’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Council voted 4 to 3 to “opt-in” to allowing retail Cannabis stores. This has yet to be confirmed with a by-law at next Monday’s regular meeting but it’s unusual for councillors to change their vote. There was a considerable debate after the staff motion was read by Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin which recommended “opting out”. John Henderson was strongly in favour of opt-out since not only could we opt in later but we could learn from other similar sized municipalities who had opted in. Brian Darling pointed to the strong majority in the survey who had no concerns – 78.5% vs 21.5% of 3,458 participating. He felt that we need to act now or lose an opportunity.
Brian was also concerned about losing money from the Province – there would be more for those who opted in. Two amounts of $5000 were mentioned and although this is split with the county, there were few details on what Cobourg would actually receive.
Another concern was that although applications for retail stores are now being accepted, it appears that Cobourg will not be eligible because it’s too small (although I thought Northumberland might qualify). Adam Bureau thought it would be strange to accept the idea of a “large grow op” in town (FV Pharma) but not permit a store. John Henderson said that FV Pharma would be permitted a dispensary by Federal regulations although that implies for medical use only. Nicole Beatty was in favour for opting in because it was innovative.
Emily Chorley said that the issue was of timing and whether regulations were right as of now. She shared John’s concerns (e.g. proximity to day-cares) and repeated John’s idea of opting in later but wanted a commitment to reconsider within 12 months or when Cobourg was eligible for a store, whichever came first.
John and Emily were both concerned about the Ford government limiting the Town’s planning ability. When asked to comment, Director of Planning Glenn McGlashon said that it was “a little concerning” and not thought through but that this was not the first time that the Provincial Government had limited local planning authority – the Liberals had done something similar under their Green plan.
Adam pointed to the fact that the Town did not have control over where Tobacco was sold and in fact only controls liquor (the LCBO must be only downtown or at the Mall) but not beer. As Glenn said, if beer and wine were to be sold in corner stores, that would be comparable to Cannabis.
In the end a vote was called on the motion to Opt-out but it was defeated 4 – 3. The 3 in favour (of Opting-out) were Mayor John Henderson, Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin and Councillor Emily Chorley. The 4 against were Nicole Beatty, Brian Darling, Adam Bureau and Aaron Burchat. That means the Town will Opt-in to allowing retail Cannabis stores in the Town.
- Full Staff report posted on the Civic Web
- Public Meeting on Retail Cannabis in Cobourg – 18 December 2018
- More info on Cannabis Retail Sales in Cobourg – 15 December 2018
- Survey on Cannabis Retail Outlets – 28 November 2018