The City of Barrie has not only agreed to host pot shops, but tentatively laid out where the stores can operate and where you can’t smoke it.
Monday night’s meeting saw council give the initial okay to the rules governing brick-and-mortar cannabis retail stores within city limits. The guidelines also ban the smoking or vaping of cannabis on any City sidewalk, following a motion laid out by Councillor Doug Shipley who says this is correcting a provincial misstep. “I have had a lot of calls, a lot of emails… and people were astounded that it was going to become where you could do it wherever you want. I don’t think anyone had any issue with it being treated much similar to alcohol” says Shipley, “you can’t walk down Dunlop St. drinking a beer, but they’re saying you can walk down Dunlop smoking recreational cannabis.”
“…I’m open to banning both on sidewalks, but I don’t think you can ban cannabis and not ban cigarette smoking.”
Councillor Keenan Aylwin disagreed with the analogy, likening it more to smoking tobacco, “The reality is cigarette smoke, second-hand smoke from cigarettes, is more harmful to our health, and I think we need to make our policies based on evidence. So I’m open to banning both on sidewalks, but I don’t think you can ban cannabis and not ban cigarette smoking.” Aylwin was the only one to vote against the motion.
The guidelines are just that. It a series of recommendations as to how the city should permit private sector cannabis retail stores. The city staff-generated document also makes the distinction that Barrie is not going to opt-out of permitting provincially-licensed shops within city borders.
Mayor Jeff Lehman says these rules may not be required just yet. “There’s twenty-five stores across the entire province, and a limited number within our district. So what we are actually talking about here is whether Barrie gets one. Or none.” Lehman said at council Monday night. “Now, I don’t think that’s the end of it; I think there will be lots more stores in the future. And that’s the reason why we should have this sort of discussion and guidance before the first one is established.”
The proposed rules state these stores cannot operate within 300 metres of the following:
- A Georgian College location
- Parks and Open Spaces
- Addiction facilities such as Alcohol and Detox Treatment Centres/Clinics
- Day Nurseries/Child Care Centres
- Community Centres/Arenas
- Mental Health/Addiction Centres
- Youth Oriented Hubs
The staff report also stipulates that cannabis retail stores shouldn’t be built in areas with a high concentration of existing stores or LCBO locations. Areas that lack parking or transit access, are not pedestrian friendly or are zoned residential would also not suit. Monday’s staff report did contain a map detailing a variety of suitable suggested locations.
The Province has announced a fund of $40 million over two years to help municipalities with the implementation costs of cannabis legalization, Barrie’s first payment amount is expected to be $136,869. The guidelines laid out Monday night stipulate that any funding be split, with one-third going towards Barrie Police Service’s increased road safety and storefront enforcement. Two-thirds will be allocated to the City of Barrie, to pay for such things as increased demand on the Planning Department, the hiring of more bylaw officers, and any increase in court resources volume.
Barrie Council is expected to give final approval to these guidelines at next Monday’s meeting, while the Alcohol and Gaming Corporation of Ontario is expected to name the first 25 successful applicants as of this Friday.