After months and months of discussions and debates around cannabis retail stores opening up in the Town of Erin, council has finally opted in and allowed it to happen.
They voted unanimously to allow the stores at a Tuesday meeting.
Lisa Campion, director of Legislative Service, presented the cannabis retail store opt in/opt out report which included the information from the survey staff conducted from Jul. 1 to Jul. 31.
The survey was completed by 277 respondents with 70 per cent of them strongly or somewhat in support of permitting cannabis retail stores, whereas approximately 27 per cent of them do not want them in town.
“I just want to reiterate that this survey does not have any scientific nature, meaning that there was nothing stopping residents from going back to the survey and filling it out again,” said Campion.
“The staff highly suggest to remain opted-out because staff was unable to obtain the current public opinion on opting-in as the sample size was limited with 277 respondents, and the town has a population of 12,000. Also, there is no longer a financial incentive to opt-in as final funding payments were released in 2019.”
Councillors, however, disagreed with that reasoning.
Coun. Michael Robins noted that 277 respondents is a statistically significant number.
“I think the 277 is significant and the people have spoken, 70 per cent acceptance is overwhelmingly clear to me. We have asked the people of Erin and they have told us this is what they want; we’re representing their interests,” said Robins.
All of the councillors agreed with Robins, with Coun. Rob Smith chiming in to note that he has spoken to many older residents and they are all for it.
“I also support what I’m hearing from the council but I’ll also check with other mayors who have done this,” said Mayor Allan Alls. “It’s my age group who says we want it because they use it for medicinal purposes.”
Campion initially had a motion for remaining opting out, however, council unanimously voted yes to opting in.
Retail cannabis store owner, Jordan Eady, who previously spoke to council in February about the possibility of the town opting in and allowing him to open one of his stores in Erin, is ecstatic about the decision.
"We knew it would be a lengthy process but happy the council liked our vision and we are looking forward to bringing that vision to Erin to share with the community," said Eady.
"The next step for us is finding a space that fits our brand. Before this decision, we were back and forth with waiting for council to opt in and for any rental spaces to open up in town. It's hard. We're still struggling as there are currently no rental spaces available."
Eady explained that once their store opens up in Erin, there will be more jobs available for residents.
"We focus on bringing jobs to Erin and working with the community to help promote all the wonderful things Erin has to offer," said Eady.
Angelica Babiera, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com