Survey finds strong support for pot stores in Guelph, city says
City will get larger share of provincial funding if it has retail stores
A majority of people in Guelph want to see retail cannabis stores, according to results from two surveys conducted by the city.
City council is set to decide whether or not to allow local retail stores at its next meeting on Monday.
City staff are recommending council vote to permit the storefronts in Guelph.
Staff are also recommending the city create a bylaw "mirroring" the Smoke Free Ontario Act to allow for enforcement of tobacco and cannabis consumption by bylaw compliance officers.
Further public engagement on strengthening smoking regulations is also recommended.
Two thirds of residents support stores
A staff report to council includes the results of telephone on online surveys, asking residents if they would support having the stores in the city.
Almost two-thirds of people surveyed by phone were in favour, with 31 per cent saying they "strongly support" and 33.7 per cent saying they "somewhat support" retail stores.
The online survey showed even higher results, with 77 per cent of people saying they strongly support the stores.
Most of the respondents in both surveys also said they would prefer to buy legal cannabis in stores, rather than online.
According to the staff report, Ontario municipalities will receive a share of $30 million in funding from the province to put towards costs related to cannabis legalization.
The funding will be doled out in two installments, but cities that opt out of retail stores will only receive $5,000 in the second payment.
Guelph will receive $141,661 from the first installment January. The amount of the second installment that will be paid if the city does not opt out has not yet been announced.
The provincial government has set a deadline of Jan. 22, 2019 for municipalities to opt out.