People have until 4:30 p.m. Thursday to take a survey that will be used to help shape Owen Sound’s municipal cannabis policy statement.
Two open houses on the draft document, which the city hopes will influence where recreational pot shops can be located, were scheduled for Monday. No one attended the afternoon session and the evening event was cancelled due to the weather.
Community services director Pam Coulter said staff will decide after they know how many people completed the survey if another open house should be held.
“What I’m planning to do is look at the responses that we get through the online survey – and I don’t have those numbers yet – and then depending on if there’s much feedback there, craft the report to council with the recommendation on the final policy or go back to the public if I feel like we’re missing something or we need to redraft it and get more input,” she said Tuesday in an interview.
Coulter said she believes the policy, once approved by council, will have to be updated and adjusted occasionally as the city’s landscape changes.
“At least this will be a good starting point and we’ll continue to monitor and evaluate this as it’s implemented in other communities too,” she said.
“We have a bit of time to see how it’s going and maybe get some of the bugs ironed out before Owen Sound will be in the group eligible for a store.”
Owen Sound council voted Dec. 17 to opt in to allowing legal recreational cannabis retail stores in the city.
Just days earlier, the province announced that only 25 licences will initially be issued across Ontario through a lottery process for stores that can open April 1. It did not mention when a second round will be granted.
The province said no stores will be allowed in the first round in municipalities with less than 50,000 people.
The city’s municipal cannabis policy statement will identify “locally sensitive land uses” in Owen Sound near where the community thinks the stores shouldn’t be located as well as a recommended buffer zone around such places.
The city can then use the document as its comments to the Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario, the province’s regulator for private retail cannabis, when the agency receives an application for a store in Owen Sound.
The sensitive uses identified in the draft statement so far include 22 churches, nine daycare centres and three bars as well as the Julie McArthur Regional Recreation Centre, Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, the library, health unit, Owen Sound medical clinic, LCBO and Beer Store, addiction treatment facilities and group homes.
The draft recommends a 70-metre buffer zone around those locations.
Provincial regulations require the stores to be at least 150 metres from any school.
There is no regulatory requirement for the AGCO to adhere to a community’s policy statement when deciding on a cannabis store application.
The agency has told municipalities that comments on applications must related to “matters of public interest,” such as protecting public health and safety, protecting youth and restricting their access to cannabis and preventing illicit activities in relation to cannabis.
The draft statement and survey can be found at owensound.ca/retailcannabis. Copies are also available at city hall.