Sudbury preparing for legal marijuana, retail store
Public safety and health expected to present greatest challenges for the city
The City of Greater Sudbury is getting ready for the legalization of marijuana, and for the arrival of one of the first retail stores in Ontario.
Last week, the Ontario government passed the Cannabis Act, which gives the province a monopoly on recreational sales, and establishes an agency to distribute and sell marijuana.
The news came one day after the federal government announced that 75 per cent of tax revenues from those sales will go towards the provinces.
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Kevin Fowke, the general manager of corporate services for the City of Greater Sudbury, says municipalities are now coming together with the province to work out the details of legalization.
Legalization expected to cost cities money
"The priorities from our perspective are about five-fold," said Fowke.
They include public safety and enforcement, public health, core municipal functions like planning and zoning, business regulation and tax revenue. Fowke expects public safety and public health to present the biggest challenges — and cost the most money.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has indicated that a portion of the province's tax revenues will help municipalities shoulder those costs.
"Certainly as children of the province, we will be in line to realize the benefits that we can, because there are services and there are impacts here," said Fowke.
Other elements, like planning and zoning for the new retail store, will present less of a challenge because the city deals with this kind of commercial development on a regular basis.
LCBO accepting public feedback on retail site
Fowke says the city is currently working with the Ministry of Finance and the Liquor Control Board on Ontario (LCBO) to identify potential sites for the store.
"We've been sending information back and forth with them on locations that are appropriately zoned, that would fit their criteria and adhere to our zoning bylaws."
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The LCBO is actively seeking public feedback on site selection online, and city council will have a chance to weigh in on the proposed site sometime in January. But Fowke says the final decision about where the store will go ultimately falls to the LCBO.
"This is their process and so like any other retail establishment that wants to set up within our city, if they've got appropriately zoned land, really they have every right and ability to move and to purchase that land."