Candidates running for the mayor’s spot in Quinte area municipalities are facing a big question if they win – how to deal with Ontario’s upcoming rules on the sale of marijuana.
The issue is the Ford government’s plan to hand marijuana sales to the private sector, leaving the storefront issue to the municipalities, with a one-time option to say YES or NO.
Quinte News asked the mayoral candidates if they would push for retail stores.
There are four candidates in the Belleville race.
Councillor Egerton Boyce says it’s an opportunity to grow the economy, and council will have an opportunity to listen to officials and police.
Mayor Taso Christopher indicated that much will depend on just what comes before city council from the province next April, “will it be free standing buildings or in pharmacies, for instance?” And he questions if the province will provide the internet data sales numbers to prospective cannabis entrepreneurs.
Candidate Jodie Jenkins says he’s leaning toward saying “Yes” to give council a say in where legal pot will be sold. Jenkins provided this statement:
“People are already selling pot behind every convenience store and high school in the area. So, a legal pot shop isn’t bringing anything new into the community. It’s already here. City Council has a say in zoning and land use. So, we have a say in where legal pot shops go. That’s an opportunity for public consultation, building consensus and shaping the community. Do we want pot shop(s) close to where people work? where people live? a certain distance from schools, daycares, playgrounds, etc. Saying YES gives council a say in where legal pot will be sold. Saying NO means illegal pot will continue to be sold wherever it is now. Selling illegal pot is likely to continue even with a legal pot store too, I imagine.
I lean towards saying YES, but I also realize that the new mayor and council will undertake a full conversation on the issue when they take office.”
Councillor Mitch Panciuk says the city’s role is to help with the planning side of making sure any such retail stores are properly zoned and in an area “we are in favour of”.
Panciuk says he will meet with some provincial officials at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario next week to ask more questions about the cannabis legislation.
Also, Quinte West mayoralty candidates Councillor Duncan Armstrong and Mayor Jim Harrison responded to the Quinte News question.
They both support the sale of marijuana in their community.
Armstrong and Harrison both told Quinte News they want more details about how it will be done safely.