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Council rejects retail cannabis stores in Mapleton

by Aryn Strickland

DRAYTON - Mapleton councillors are unanimous in their stance to disallow  retail cannabis stores in the township.

Residents filled the municipal council chamber to capacity on Jan. 8 to witness the vote.

Councillor Dennis Craven, the first to comment on the matter, clarified that opting out of now does not prevent the township from allowing cannabis stores at a later date.

Other members of council cited frustrations with the province’s handling of the legislation and with municipalities’ lack of control over the number and location of local pot shops.

Councillor Marlene Ottens thanked residents for providing feedback, noting she received 50 to 60 letters on the issue.

Quoting one letter, she  said, “‘We have a civic duty to help ensure that this plan is rolled out in a socially responsible manner ...’

“I feel that this thing has been thrown on us too quickly with a lot of changing regulation and I feel as a responsible civic representative that we need to do this slowly.”

Councillor Paul Douglas said he “flip-flopped a few times” over the vote, but ultimately he is disappointed in the province’s approach to the legislation. He does not consider possible funding from the province as enough of an incentive to allow cannabis stores at this time.

“I am kind of disappointed in the way that it was rolled out and downloaded to a municipal decision,” Douglas said. “I don’t agree with the patchwork of municipalities across Ontario, some opting in and some opting out. If we opt in now there is no turning back.”

Ahead of the vote, council heard from four delegates - three from Mapleton - who encouraged council to opt out.  

Kayla Vizcaino, 19,  told council she grew up in Mapleton but is currently living in Windsor receiving treatment for marijuana addiction. Her troubles, she said, began when she was in high school in Mapleton.

Echoing some of Vizcaino’s statement, councillor Michael Martin said engagement with Mapleton youths needs to be  a priority moving forward.

“When I think Mapleton, I don’t think of a pioneer into the retail side of recreational marijuana…” Martin said.

Mayor Gregg Davidson told the audience “this is something that this council has not taken lightly … it’s a tough one because there are a lot of variables going up and down.”

Noting the many changes to cannabis regulations ahead of the opt-in/opt-out deadline, Davidson said the  biggest issue is municipalities will not have control over the location and number of local pot stores.

“We like to have control over our retail market; we would like to have control over how close it goes to a school,” he said.

“For me when they changed it from 500 meters to 150 that was not good.”

Davidson added, “The roll out has been a dismal nightmare right from the federal government on down to the provincial.”

Some people in the audience applauded when council voted unanimously to disallow pot stores in Mapleton.

January 11, 2019


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