Wellington North launches opt-in, opt-out survey

KENILWORTH – Wellington North has launched an online public survey through SurveyMonkey to gauge whether residents think retail cannabis stores should be allowed in the township.

Councillors Lisa Hern and Steve McCabe voiced an interest on Dec. 5 in hearing from the public on the issue to help make the decision easier whether to opt in or out ahead of the Jan. 22 deadline.

However, Mayor Lennox warned that ultimately the decision is up to council.

“I just want to bring that up as a caution,” he said. “There is nothing wrong with us gathering information from the public but… we are not going to get a home run from public input, I don’t believe.”

Representatives from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health offered to help staff word questions on the survey.

“We have also recently completed our own cannabis survey. We completed that over the summer and so we have data from Wellington County that we would be happy to share with you on people’s attitudes and perceptions around cannabis,” said public health manager Amy Estill.

However, Estill and her colleague, health promotion specialist Kyley Alderson, told council they were encouraging municipalities across Wellington County to opt out because so much was still unknown about how opting in would play out and effect the overall public health of communities.

Council also heard from Centre Wellington resident Silvana Sangiuliano who urged council to opt out over concerns about the impact of marijuana.

Much of the conversation in council was also centred around the impact of the loss of revenue.

“The province has committed, if they make $100,000 profit over two years, they will return some of that money to the municipalities,” explained clerk Karren Wallace.

“What that looks like, I don’t know. That will depend on how many stores per capita, I don’t know but if you opt out and you are out on Jan. 22, and you decide to opt in after that, you are not entitled to any of that revenue,” she added.

The online survey will remain open until Dec. 16 at 11:59pm, enabling council to discuss the results at the Dec. 17 council meeting.

Those interested can find the survey on the Wellington North website: wellington-north.com.