Mayor’s corner: Cannabis retail setbacks: let us know what you think

Tyler Warman
Mayor of Slave Lake

So the debate over cannabis continues. To be honest council has never heard so much diversity in opinions on a topic.

Council’s approach thus far has been to try and find something balanced that is conservative enough that allows the activity to occur, but restricts it enough that in the future it will be easier to open the door rather than close it.

A public hearing will take place on Oct 2 at 7 p.m. in Town Council Chambers in which the public will have an opportunity to voice their opinion before council passes the final bylaw.

Thus far council seems quite aligned on direction. First we are saying that on the consumption side, we will treat it the same as alcohol and there will be no public consumption.

On the retail side, we are stating that we want to restrict business, but we want to allow some free enterprise. We will propose a setback, keep the stores to a certain zoning, and any application goes before a board for consideration.

On the other side, we are not saying how close shops will be from each other, hours of operation or how many are allowed in the community. We believe the market will sort that out.

The biggest area of debate at this point has been the setback distance. The Province has proposed we set it at 100 metres from schools and provincial health care facilities. In comparison, liquor stores have no such setback.

Council debated this and is instead proposing 50m. On one side some want us to be open for business, encourage growth and create jobs. On the other side, this industry is new, controversial and some believe the closer we allow cannabis stores to schools, the more likely it will be that children have access to it.

In the end both are probably right and this is why we are playing in the middle.

We are looking for your feedback before we finalize our decision. The maps below show what effect a 100m setback and a 50m setback have on the ability of retailers to open shop in our community. The shaded area would be where a retail location would not be allowed to operate.

Let us know what you think.

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