Windsor

Sarnia asking residents to weigh in on allowing pot shops

The City of Sarnia is asking its residents to weigh in on cannabis retail stores. Under rules established by the Ford government, municipalities have until Jan. 22 to opt out of the shops.

Online consultations to be followed by public meeting, says Mayor Mike Bradley

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley spoke to Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre Tuesday. (Colin Butler/CBC)

Sarnia is asking its residents to weigh in on whether the city should allow private cannabis retail stores.

Under rules established by the Ford government, municipalities have until Jan. 22 to opt out of the shops, which will be legal starting April.

"It's something I deeply believe in — public engagement," Mayor Mike Bradley told Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre. "I do think the online [consultation] will be helpful, but I also think we need to have a public meeting before we make the final decision." 

A screenshot of Sarnia's cannabis consultation site. (City of Sarnia)

The site launched in early November and consists of a survey as well as a forum. There have been 517 responses made in the forum so far.

Despite the consultation, Bradley, who supports legalization and the private retail model, does not think opting out would be an easy decision for his city to make, even if the consultation shows residents are against allowing the stores.

"You have to listen to what the public is saying, but you also ... have to make a decision based on what you think is in the best interests of the community," he said. "That'll be the balancing act."

Bradley is frustrated the province is not allowing municipalities to decide where the stores can set up shop through zoning. He also thinks it is a mistake to not have a population-based cap on the number of retail licenses available.

"By not putting a cap on the licenses, I think they're probably hurting the bidding process for people who want to apply for licenses," he said.

"They're going to look at considerable expense and time to have a store, and they're going to then not know if they're going to have five competitors, 10 competitors." 

Sarnia's cannabis consultation is set to end on Nov. 28.

About the Author

Jonathan Pinto is a reporter/editor at CBC Windsor, primarily assigned to Afternoon Drive, CBC Radio's regional afternoon show for southwestern Ontario. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.

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