'More work to be done': Fort McMurray won't have cannabis stores open on Oct. 17

Fort McMurray won't have any retail stores open when cannabis is legalized on Oct. 17 - and that doesn't surprise the community's mayor.

But municipality is processing cannabis retail store applications, and working to get bylaws nailed down

Wood Buffalo Mayor Don Scott says more work needs to be done to finalize rules around cannabis sales in Fort McMurray. (David Thurton/ CBC)

Fort McMurray won't have any retail stores open when cannabis is legalized next week — and that comes as no surprise to the mayor. 

Canada's oilsands capital isn't on the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission's (AGLC) list of places that will have stores ready to open when cannabis is legalized next week. 

The bulk of the 17 stores with licences in place will be opening on Oct. 17 in the Edmonton area.

The municipality and businesses in the region have been working hard to get ready for cannabis legalization, said Don Scott, mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

"I am not surprised by that, it is obviously brand new and [legalization] is going at a fast pace in Canada," Scott said. "So there will be more work to be done."

The municipality is still tweaking the cannabis bylaws that were first passed in July, Scott said in an interview Friday with CBC News.

Municipal council will vote on revising those bylaws on Oct. 23 to clarify the locations where cannabis can be sold.

"We're going to make sure the [municipal rules] we get reflect the community's needs," Scott said.

Although the locations won't be open next week, RMWB spokesperson Adam Hardiman said the municipality is accepting and processing cannabis retail store applications.

The municipality has received 11 retail applications and has issued three development permits to businesses — two in downtown Fort McMurray and one in the neighbourhood of Stone Creek, Hardiman said.

Even though Fort McMurray won't have a physical retail store on Oct. 17, residents can purchase marijuana through the Alberta government's online store, which the AGLC says will accept orders at 12:01 a.m.

In July, council voted on rules surrounding the sale and consumption of cannabis which were described by one lobby group as among the strictest in Canada.

The smoking and vaping bylaws banned the use of cannabis in any location with public access, including parks, sidewalks and transit facilities.

Residents also won't be able to smoke or vape cannabis in bars and restaurants.


Connect with David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn or email him at david.thurton@cbc.ca 


David Thurton

Senior reporter, Parliamentary Correspondent

David Thurton is a senior reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He covers daily politics in the nation’s capital and specializes in environment and energy policy. Born in Canada but raised in Trinidad and Tobago, he’s moved around more times than he can count. He’s worked for CBC in several provinces and territories, including Alberta and the Northwest Territories.