The City of Brampton and its new city council has been busy engaging with residents on how to move forward with the Province’s looming deadline of January 22nd. Councillors must decide on opting in or out of retail cannabis stores in the city. Nikki Cedrone, Chair of Neighbourhood Watch Brampton commented at the city’s Retail Cannabis Townhall on January 10th (see text below). Residents are encouraged to have their say on the city’s website.
The Province has given municipalities until January 22nd to “opt-in” and allow retail establishments that can legally sell recreational cannabis. The City of Mississauga has already opted out until their city council can examine how the storefronts are rolled out elsewhere across the province. The City of Toronto has opted in. Cities will be given the opportunity to opt-in again at a later date.
25 retail licenses were recently award through a lottery process run by the Provincial government. These early licensees have been given no later than April 1st to open their stores. Cannabis is legal in Canada and can already be purchased online in Ontario at the Ontario Cannabis Store.
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Public comments from Neighbourhood Watch Brampton on upcoming retail cannabis decision expected to be made my city council on January 21st:
My name is Nikki Cedrone and I am the chair of Neighbourhood Watch Brampton, a volunteer, community run organization formed 2 years ago by Brampton Focus Community Media to involve and connect citizens in community safety, crime prevention and community well-being.
Several months ago, we engaged with residents and businesses with our Tuesday Townhall online series. We provided information about the upcoming cannabis legislation and informed about issues in the workplace as well as the implications for municipalities.
We also engaged residents about this topic at our Neighbourhood Watch Meetings throughout Brampton this past summer. The general feedback from these informed residents was that:
- Cannabis is now a legal reality in Canada and cannot be ignored
- Cannabis is already being distributed through illegal channels in the city including neighbourhood streets and schools
- Cannabis is already being supplied legally online to Brampton residents
- More municipal support should be geared to substance abuse and addiction to other more dangerous controlled substances that are at epidemic levels in many parts of the city
- Opting out of cannabis retail stores would result in Brampton residents going to nearby municipalities to meet their needs
- Opting in could bring economic benefits to the city and reduce distribution through illegal channels
A majority of residents through our qualitative assessment were in favour of retail cannabis stores in Brampton.
However, concerns were raised about the level of preparedness of law enforcement, schools and educators, bylaw offices, and workplaces.
As a mother of 4 boys and someone who knows full well about the increasing rise in crime recently across Brampton, I have concerns in regard to opting in:
- How will Brampton ensure that enforcement is implemented with regards to smoking in restricted areas? How much will it cost for enforcement? Do we have a policy for nuisance and odor by-law?
- Does the city have regulations for youth protection with regards to age verification, id, advertising and marketing?
- Does the city have regulations drawn up with the regulation of homegrown plants and how to properly compost residential and industrial cannabis plants?
Neighbourhood watch Brampton believes that retail cannabis stores in the city is not an option, it is an eventuality. The question that needs to be answered is do we want to be a first adopter and the benefits that could come with that, or should we follow Mississauga with a wait and see policy so that we avoid the pitfalls of what appears to legislation that is a work in progress.