Saskatoon, Regina mayors say public will be consulted over city pot shop plans
Saskatoon already working to include pot in smoking, vaping bans
The mayors of Saskatoon and Regina say the public will be consulted about zoning, bylaws and the locations of up to 13 pot shops the province has agreed to permit between the two cities.
The Saskatchewan government announced on Monday that marijuana will be sold by private companies after the drug is federally legalized, which is expected to happen July 1.
The announcement comes following pressure from municipal leaders, who said they were unable to prepare for the approaching change without knowing the provincial plan. Saskatchewan was the last of the provinces to announce its policy before legalization.
Under the new rules, Saskatoon will have the option to receive up to seven permits from the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) for retailers in that city. Regina will have the option for six pot shops.
More 'clarity' will help zoning, says Clark
Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said the city administration can move closer to finalizing its zoning and bylaw changes now that the policy has been released.
He said some changes are already being made to regulate the sale of the drug.
"We have already at [planning and development] committee today amended the smoking bylaw to make sure, at minimum, cannabis follows the same rules as smoking and vaping," said Clark.
The mayor does not expect pot sellers will be restricted to industrial areas, adding that liquor stores are already located throughout the city and along major roads.
"We'll make sure that any concerns about schools and children's safety and all those things are dealt with, but also that people can access it in a safe way as well," said Clark.
He said there would need to be "good public discussion" about where the retailers should be located.
Regina mayor says questions remain
Regina Mayor Michael Fougere said city residents will also be consulted in the process of finalizing bylaw and zoning changes.
He said a working group is already preparing a report but it will be based on some "assumptions" until the province provides more information.
"I would be quite certain there would be a legal challenge right away if you don't do it, so why the provision's in there — you'd have to ask the province for that," he said.
"But for us I don't think that would be an issue we would even talk about ... I'm not sure what the compelling reason would be to say no when it's legally regulated and is by law allowed to be used."
Revenue-sharing request to be addressed
Fougere also wants to know if the province will agree to sharing the tax revenue from marijuana sales to cover costs such as police training, equipment and licensing, something Clark has also been pushing for in Saskatoon.
Fougere said a one-third share would be a good starting point for discussions over how much the municipalities should receive.
Both mayors laughed when they were asked if the public could expect to see them smoking marijuana publicly after the drug becomes legal.
Fougere said it was safe to say that would not happen, while Clark said he had not given the idea any thought.
"My focus right now is just to help have a well-managed process to sort this out," said Clark.
"I haven't given any consideration to whether I'd go out there and light up a joint."