At a Special Council Meeting, held on Monday night, Council voted 5-1 to allow private retail cannabis stores in the municipality. One Councillor did not participate in the vote due to a potential conflict of interest.
“Rather than focusing on highly regulated retail sales, I believe our focus should be on developing a task force to deal with enforcement as it relates to public health, cannabis use in public spaces, impaired driving and safety issues related to home growing,” says Mayor Tom Mrakas. “Whether we have a retail outlet or not, we still have to deal with enforcement issues and taxpayers will bear the cost of that. Opting in will allow us to partially offset costs by receiving additional funding from the government.”
Municipalities that opt-in to allowing retail outlets will receive a share of the province’s portion of all future federal excise duty on recreational cannabis.
The decision followed more than a month of public consultation done through social media and the Town’s community engagement platform, PlaceSpeak. At the Special Council Meeting, residents were also invited to delegate to Council on the matter. Overall, feedback from residents was mixed.
Council will also request that the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), the regulator for private retail cannabis in the province, consider restrictions as a matter of public interest when reviewing retail store authorization applications for proposed stores in the Town of Aurora. Those restrictions would include ensuring private cannabis retail stores not be permitted within 150 metres of daycares, nurseries, parks, group homes, community centres, libraries, addiction/counselling centres, Town Hall and other similar public gathering places. In addition they will request that private cannabis retail stores not be permitted within 150 metres of each other.
In December 2018, the provincial government announced that 25 initial cannabis licences will be allocated across the province, with just five of those licences being issued to cannabis retail stores in the Greater Toronto Area. It is expected further licences will be handed out once the federal government has resolved current issues related to lack of supply.
The deadline for Council to decide whether to opt-in or out is January 22, 2019.
Additional Council Information
Comprehensive minutes of Aurora Town Council Meetings, which detail the full list of Council decisions, are available under Agendas and Minutes on the Town of Aurora website. Minutes are available on the Friday afternoon following Council.