Renfrew -- While there are currently no cannabis retail stores in Renfrew, council is hoping its comments on where cannabis retail stores could be located in town will bear some weight with the final decision made by the province.
This discussion occurred at Renfrew council January 12 following receipt of a letter and motion from the City of Kitchener requesting the province modify the regulations governing the establishment of cannabis retail stores to consider overconcentration as an evaluation criteria, require a 500 metre distance separation between locations, and provide added weight to the comments of a municipality concerning matters in the public interest when considering the application of new stores.
Councillor Sandi Heins said council should support the motion since municipalities should have a say in the final decision, which was something council agreed to in early 2019.
“We were under the understanding at that time that we would have some say, or at least some comments, in regards to the establishment of these businesses in our town,” she recalled. “We’ve seen this before, where we don’t, where we haven’t been asked. They couldn’t care less about our opinion. This is very important to certainly let the provincial government know that municipalities should have some type of comment that they entertain when allowing these stores to establish.”
Reeve Peter Emon agreed, saying it mirrors the concern most rural and small-town Ontario have with regards to infrastructure.
“The province, over the last few years, has deliberately excluded local comment,” he said. “(Local comments) are the cornerstone of land use planning, whether you agree with the comments you get or not.”
Councils have legitimate concerns, he said.
“I don’t think small town Ontario wants every third shop on their main street to be a pot shop, just like they don’t want, with every respect, every third store front to be a tattoo parlour, or something like that,” Reeve Emon said.
Several stores spread across the municipality, not clustered together, is ideal, and the 500 metres that Kitchener is suggesting is ideal, he said.
Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader