Ingersoll council says yes to provincial cannabis program

The town is one of the few in Oxford County without a weed store, but that may change soon as members of council voted on Monday evening to allow the legalized sale of cannabis products.

Ingersoll would have no say in the approval process, which is completed by the provincial government, nor would they be able to decide on where a cannabis store would be located.

Councillor Kristy Van Kooten-Bossence was a member of a previous council who said no to opting in. She said her reason for voting against the motion again was simple. “It could go in across from our Fusion Youth Centre. These people who brought this forward to us may very well say they aren’t going to do it, but we’ve all seen in different communities where it’s not just one shop that will open, it’s an influx and there is no way we can control that they can’t go anywhere near the centre.” She added she doesn’t want young people in the community to see a cannabis store when they are going to a youth centre. “If the provincial government were to put regulations in place that a youth centre would be seen the same as a school, then I would absolutely say let’s opt-in,” she added.

Councillor Khadijah Haliru took a more evidence-based approach to her decision to say yes to the motion based on data that is available. “Most places will tell you they’ve seen wise choices by business owners. They’ve seen caution and I don’t think anyone looking to do a business like that will bring it in across from the youth centre. We have to look at what we have, where we are, and what data we have in front of us.” She added her cousin from Toronto was going through a medical treatment and when visiting Ingersoll was looking to purchase a product to help him sleep. “We had to go online to try and find some for him and we couldn’t find any here. We had to go to Dorchester, so I think it is important to understand that it’s not one size fits all.”

Deputy Mayor Lindsay Wilson was also opposed to the decision because council wouldn’t be able to have any say on where a weed store would be located. “I want to be able to say yes and I hear the community wants this. I got that feedback quite clearly, but I think through online sales the same or next-day delivery or in Thamesford, it’s not like it isn’t accessible to residents.” She added the inability of council to have a say in a store’s location is the only reason she is against the move.

Another councillor with a yea vote was Rick Eus who said cannabis has been legalized for five years in Canada and he understood the concern about the number of shops popping up in some municipalities. “I think Tillsonburg has what, seven or eight of them. It’s a free market society. Some will succeed, some will not. If they are willing to put the money in and invest that’s fine, it’s their chance because it’s a business.”

Mayor Brian Petrie said they are in a wait-and-see situation until the town can get more information from the province on the process to allow a store to open. “One of the important things to note is the municipality is not notified when there is an application made and I don’t believe the public is either without checking the (AGCO) website. It can be difficult to keep track of what’s happening.” Petrie added it isn’t easy for a potential weed store owner to know what’s going on either based on the current licensing system.

Kiwanis Club granted free usage of town equipment for Harvest Market

The club asked for and was given access to picnic tables, tables, and chairs for the upcoming Kiwanis Ingersoll Harvest Market. The event is set for August 24 from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Mayor Petrie said council is pleased to help the club host the third annual event taking place in Centennial Park. “It’s a great partnership between the town and Kiwanis where they put on a great event at very little cost to the municipality. Last year they came back after the fact and asked for those costs to be waived which council did. We are being proactive to help make sure they can get their planning underway.”

According to the club, last year’s event attracted over 3500 people.

Lee Griffi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wilmot-Tavistock Gazette