Burlington City Council Votes to Opt in on Having Cannabis Stores
Burlington City Council has voted to opt in on having cannabis stores in the city.
This decision was made last night (Jan. 14) during a Special Meeting of Council. The actual motion was for Burlington to ‘not opt out’, meaning opting in, and it was carried by a vote of 5-2.
Ward 4 Coun. Shawna Stolte and Ward 6 Coun. Angelo Bentivegna voted against the motion, meaning they wanted to opt out.
The decision to opt in, according to a recent press release, means that bricks and mortar stores with an approved license from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (ACGO), will be allowed to sell recreational cannabis in the city as early as April 1, 2019.
Currently, the ACGO has made 25 retail licenses for cannabis stores in Ontario available, six of which are in the GTA.
It is not yet known if there will be an application for a cannabis store in Burlington.
In addition to opting in, Council also voted in favour of creating a citizen task force. This will consist of terms of reference, including bylaw recommendations, and the creation of guidelines for future retail cannabis stores.
To provide Council with as much information as possible in deciding whether to opt in or opt out, the city asked residents to share their thoughts.
According to the press release, in an online survey that was available from Dec. 4 - Dec. 13, 2018, 65.4 per cent of the 1,926 respondents voted in favour of cannabis stores in the city.
At a town hall meeting hosted by Mayor Marianne Meed Ward back in December, 82 per cent of the 106 participants in attendance voted in support of cannabis retail stores.
Later, in a second round of online engagement, an additional 784 people completed the online survey, 56.8 per cent were in favour of cannabis stores in Burlington.
Mayor Meed Ward released the following statement in the press release.
“I am pleased that council voted to support opting in to allow cannabis retail stores in our community. Council showed courage and leadership to ensure our residents have safe and legal access to this now-legal product. I appreciate there is a variety of perspectives on this issue, and I also respect the two councillors who voted against opting in, as they did what they believed was right for their constituents. There are diversities in the community on this and that is reflected in the diverse vote we had last night. The majority of our citizens support opting in, and that was reflected in the final vote.
Opting in provides the opportunity to work with the community to create that made-in-Burlington solution for the sale of recreational cannabis, where the health, safety and finances of residents are not negatively impacted."
Currently, Burlington is the only municipality within the Halton region that has opted in on having retail cannabis stores. Milton and Oakville have both opted out (for now), and Halton Hills has not yet decided.
What do you think of this decision?
Photo is courtesy of the City of Burlington.