City Council today directed the City Clerk and Solicitor to notify the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario that the City of Ottawa will permit retail cannabis stores beginning April 1, 2019.
Permitting retail cannabis stores will help reduce the black market and provide consumers access to safer products in a highly regulated environment. The City will spend less resources shutting down illegal sellers, and receive additional funding from the Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund to offset the costs related to the legalization of recreational cannabis. Cannabis retailers will also create economic and employment opportunities in the city, including spinoff benefits for other sectors.
The direction followed Council’s consideration of the Report on Ontario Cannabis Legislation, Cannabis Retail Stores and Response to Council Direction of August 29, 2018 and feedback from public delegations.
Council, meeting as Committee of the Whole, heard presentations from 10 members of the public. This is in addition to 23,000 responses to an online survey conducted earlier this fall. The responses to the online survey and a random sample telephone survey generally supported permitted retail cannabis stores in Ottawa. Public input indicates that residents want stores with appropriate controls and protections to minimize the impacts on the community.
The General Manager of the Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department will develop the City’s formal responses to store applications made to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission. Responses will require the agreement of the Ward Councillor.
The Mayor will advocate with the Ontario government for greater municipal planning authority over retail cannabis stores, including for the right to increase the distance between stores and to regulate and license private cannabis retail stores.
Staff will report on the impact of the legalization of recreational cannabis on City services in late 2019.
This report focussed on cannabis retail stores. As new issues emerge, the City will consult with residents and provide additional reports and recommendations to Council as required.