CENTRE WELLINGTON – Five years ago, Centre Wellington council opted not to allow cannabis stores in the township.
It’s time for that to change, says John Mifsud.
The Fergus resident has created an online survey and hopes to convince council at its Feb. 13 committee of the whole meeting that not only is there acceptance of marijuana, there’s demand for it.
“There’s been five years of legalization and more social acceptance of cannabis,” he said in a phone interview.
“We have a new council and a new mayor. I think there’s opportunity for this council to allow cannabis stores in the township.”
The 29-year-old moved from Guelph to Fergus three years ago and was surprised to learn there were no cannabis stores in town.
The closest retail outlets are in Guelph or Arthur, he said, adding many people go to Waterloo to purchase marijuana as well.
“Full disclosure, I am a hopeful entrepreneur,” he said. “I’d be interested in opening a retail outlet myself.
“What I hope is with the survey, I’ll get a feel for people’s attitudes.
“I want to convince council to do their own survey, to look at it again and either continue to opt out or finally allow it.”
The township conducted a survey in 2018 and received more than 1,600 responses. That survey indicated:
- 64.1 % of people support cannabis stores in Centre Wellington, 33.4% of people do not and 2.4% were undecided;
- 49.3 % of people prefer to purchase cannabis in a legal private store;
- 38.1 % of people do not use cannabis;
- 7.1 % of people prefer to purchase cannabis on the provincial website; and
- 5.6 % of people prefer to grown their own cannabis.
Still, council of the day decided to opt out.
“There’s a perception the old council was an old boys’ club,” Mifsud said.
“I got to talk to a few (of the new) councillors during the election and it seems they might support slow, measured growth.
“We don’t want one on every corner, but we need to remove barriers to access.”
Mifsud said many people with disabilities and chronic conditions use marijuana for pain relief and it’s much safer to get their supply from a reputable seller and easier if that seller is in town.
Those without a way to get to other centres might turn to the illegal market, “and then you don’t know what you’re getting,” he added.
In a Dec. 17, 2018 press release, then-Mayor Kelly Linton explained council’s decision.
“I envision that storefronts will require additional bylaws, which in turn increases taxes,” Linton stated.
“We are not prepared at this time to offset this onto our tax base.”
Mifsud said Linton ignored the fact the township will receive tax revenue from these businesses.
And the Cannabis License Act, which regulates retail operations, is very restrictive about checking ID and ensuring youth can’t enter the store.
“Illegal enterprises are still active in town,” he said. “When you take away the criminal element, you will see access to safer product.”
Mifsud launched his survey on Jan. 8, and it closes Jan. 15. He hopes to get 1,000 responses. He’s at 400 already.
The survey can be found at www.cwcannabis.ca.