Warfield is split on whether – or not – to allow cannabis dispensaries in the village, says Mayor Diane Langman.
“The main questions that residents asked were about how the legislation is going to roll out,” Langman told the Times. “Many were unaware that households would be permitted to grow their own cannabis but limited to four plants. Some felt that we should prohibit cannabis altogether, despite the federal government legalizing it,” she added.
“I think overall, people understand that this is soon to be a legalized substance, it’s just how we manage it as a municipality.”
Council gleaned this insight during an open house in the Warfield Community Hall Wednesday night.
Only 11 residents turned up to ask questions and provide feedback about dispensaries as well as other concerns they have with pot before recreational use is made legal this year.
“We were really hoping for more resident involvement as council is trying to be proactive with our stance around dispensaries,” Langman explained. “We don’t want to get an application and then be reactive; we would like to know where our community stands beforehand and have that data available pre-July.”
Residents still have until May 4 to have their say through an online questionnaire.
She encourages her constituents to take a few minutes and fill out the nine-question survey available on the village’s website.
“Most people know that cannabis is being legalized in July and that it’s already around our community,” said Langman. “Those few that we heard from were very split on whether or not they wanted a dispensary in the community.
“It will be interesting to see the numbers once the online survey comes out,” she said. “We hope that more people will participate in the survey and give us their opinion.”
Langman recalled one issue that stood out, which regarded the distance of dispensaries from Webster school and village youth in general.
“We are a pretty small community so, if we said, for example, a dispensary cannot be within two kilometres of a school, it would pretty much eliminate all of Warfield,” she pointed out.
“So we have to be cognizant of those kinds of stipulations.”
Impaired driving was another primary concern someone brought up at the open house.
“Which is still a concern of mine as well,” Langman added. “Hopefully in the upcoming weeks we will get better clarification around this.”
After the survey closes next Friday, village staff will present a summary to council on May 16.
Then, how will council use the findings?
“Once the report is complete, should a licensing application come forward to open a dispensary in Warfield, we will be prepared for it,” Langman explained.
There will still be public consultation and public hearing as with any zoning bylaw change within the village’s commercial district.
“However, we are really hoping people will participate in the online survey now,” she said. “So that we have a good idea on where our community stands, as this is about being proactive and not reactive to the legalization.”
The Role of Local Government (available on Warfield.ca)
• Local government support is a mandatory prerequisite to issuance of a Provincial retail license
• The Province will not be regulating the location of cannabis retail stores or the number of stores allowed in each community
• Local governments may regulate the number of retail stores within their boundaries, and may prohibit them altogether
• Local governments may regulate the location of retail stores, including their distance from schools and other stores
• Local governments may impose security requirements and additional restrictions on the hours of operations – retail stores can otherwise operate between 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
-Lidstone & Company Barristers and Solicitors