Exec Agrees on Pot Shop Locations

Robert Thomas

Whoever gets the final contract for the two new cannabis retailers in Moose Jaw will not be allowed to set up shop close to schools, parks, licensed daycares and playgrounds. But if you want to set up right next to Joe's Place Youth Centre, that's OK.

In a 6 -1 vote, with Mayor Frasier Tolmie opposed, Executive Committee decided not to allow an exemption for the youth centre. The vote came on an amendment proposed by Mayor Tolmie.

"Can you explain to me how places like Joe's Place were not taken into consideration?" Mayor Tolmie asked Administration.

"It's not a publicly funded place. You can put it into the bylaw," Michelle Sanson, Director of Planning replied.

The Mayor reiterated that when Council initially approved cannabis retailers, they had said the shops would not be near youth centres.

"We initially set out to be conscious of schools, daycares and youth centres. Their (Joe's Place) goal is to be chem free and a place for kids to hang out."

"The work and effort they are trying to do there (at Joe's Place) is something I want to protect,"Mayor Tolmie stated.

Asked by Councillor Don Mitchell If there had been any feedback or "explicit interest" regarding an exemption, the Mayor said he hadn't but he expected major pushback.

"You can vote against it (an exemption for Joe's Place) if you want. I'm sure they'll be here," the Mayor stated.

Admin was asked how much of a buffer would be required to exempt the Main Street youth centre and were told one city block or about 300 feet.

"It's a lot. Right in the heart down there. I can't vote for that," Councillor Dawn Luhning stated.
Councillor Chris Warren wondered about setting a precedent that would have others want similar treatment.

"It could possibly open the doors for other groups to come in here. It could have A and B stores come in and say I don't want that close to my business," Coun Warren said.

Despite the Mayor's opposition, the motion to create a buffer around Joe's Place was defeated.
In its report, Admin had initially wanted to restrict potential cannabis production facilities to M2 and M4 zoned or industrial zones but Councillor Brian Swanson opposed the recommendation.

He proposed a motion to allow cannabis production in the Grayson Business Park.

"Cannabis production companies is something we would want to encourage," Coun Swanson said, adding that by exempting commercially zoned properties in the business park was a deterrent to investment.

"I would like to include the Grayson Industrial Park because this is where all the buildings are."
He felt that there were many steel buildings vacant in the Grayson Business Park and by  excluding them, they could not be rented and opportunity would be lost.

Mayor Tolmie was against the Grayson Business Park being included as an area zoned for cannabis production.

But Councillor Swanson saw potential business opportunity and jobs.

"Swift Current has a brewery and I say why don't we? I don't want to be putting any roadblocks up for a legal business."

In the end, Executive Committee decided, in a 6 - 1 vote, with Mayor Tolmie opposed, to include Grayson Business Park in the zoning bylaw to allow cannabis production.

Also, in the proposed cannabis zoning recommendations it was approved that retailers must be 166 metres apart.

The Cannabis Retail Zone (CRZ) is to be 166 metres from parks, schools or licensed daycares.
Retailers will be allowed on both the east and west sides of Main Street by making the required distance away from Crescent Park to be 60 metres.

Additionally, retailers will be allowed to set up shop in the Town and Country Mall.

The report stated that allowing cannabis retailers in the downtown core was consistent with making the legal product readily available and assisting in the goal to eliminate the black market.
The proposed zoning bylaw does not need to make it illegal to smoke or consume cannabis in a public place because the Province was introducing legislation to that effect.

With the federal government set to legalize cannabis, the Province allowed Moose Jaw to have two licensed retailers. Council voted unanimously not to oppose the retailers.

It is unknown at this time when recreational cannabis will be legalized. The bill is presently being studied by the Senate.