Mulmur says yes to cannabis retail stores
Mayor Janet Horner said after careful consideration, Mulmur council has decided to opt-in for recreational cannabis retail.
Horner said councillors discussed the issue briefly at their inaugural meeting in December before setting out to gauge public opinion in preparation for a Jan. 9 vote, in time to meet the Jan. 22 deadline set out by the province.
That was the opt-out deadline given by the province. As of that date, municipalities that opted out could opt in at any time but councils who opt in, could not opt out. Any municipality that did not pass a resolution, would opt in by default.
“When we came back we tried to examine it in three different ways,” said Horner.
They looked to their neighbouring municipalities to see what they were deciding but found few decisions had been made in the immediate neighbourhood.
“With 25 licences being awarded in Ontario, what are the chances really that Mulmur is going to have to deal with this? Because it is such a small municipality, retail isn’t going to come to us in the first round,” said Horner.
She said it just so happened that the OPP had been at the council meeting, outlining policing costs.
“With the marijuana legislation, we are going to see an increase in policing costs in another year or so, we believe,” said Horner. “We starting thinking about it financially and said, when we opt in we are guaranteed a bit more money that could go toward policing costs.”
However, finances were not the only consideration, she said.
“We did consider that it is a legal product and if we think about what it must have been like when prohibition was in place, we are probably in that same place here with marijuana and that eventually this is going to be as every-day as alcohol at some point,” said Horner.
“The other consideration we had is that we do want to support small business so if we opted out, in reality if someone came to us in the future and said they do want to do this in Mulmur, we would be discouraging small business if we had opted out. So, for all those reasons we opted in.”
In its last term of council, Mulmur had approved a rezoning to allow Enderlein Nurseries to proceed with converting to growing medical cannabis. Horner said it would have been hypocritical to say no to cannabis retail when the municipality supports growth facilities.
Horner said the demographics of Mulmur will change and the demand will be there.
“I can see in the far future perhaps that there will be a facility somewhere in Mulmur that could open as a retail operation… A lot of things in the implementation of this are so up in the air,” she said.
In the first phase of the roll-out, municipalities with a population below 50,000 were not considered in the 25-licence lottery conducted by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Very little is known about how the next phases.
“This is coming. It’s like a train… we might as well be on the train because it has left the station,” said Horner.
All municipalities, regardless of their decision, have received a per-household payment, adjusted to a minimum of $5,000, to support initial costs related to hosting retail storefronts.
Municipalities that have opted-out will receive a second $5,000 each, while municipalities that have opted in will receive a second funding installment on a per-household basis, (once again, adjusted to at least $5,000) and are also eligible for a portion of the federal excise tax surplus, if it exceeds $100 million.
Clearview Township has decided to opt out for now, waiting to see how the next phases of the licensing process roll out.
Proponents at Agripharm Corp, the cannabis manufacturing facility at Cashtown Corners, Peter and Naomi Miller said in a statement, “Council has made the right move in taking time to develop a policy on retail cannabis stores that works for the community, and we will support them in that process in any way we can.”
In Collingwood, council has voted to opt in, while Wasaga Beach council has opted out.
Overall, municipalities in Ontario have chosen to opt in. A full status list is posted at www.agco.ca.