Door opens for cannabis

Richard Froese
South Peace News

When cannabis becomes legal on Oct. 17, Big Lakes County has opened the door for retail business.

At its regular meeting Sept. 12, council adopted a bylaw after a somewhat quiet public hearing with some changes since first reading was given Aug. 8.

“Now, the bylaw allows retail cannabis stores in hamlets,” Reeve Ken Matthews says.

“Under the draft bylaw, retail cannabis stores were not allowed in any hamlet in the county,” said Pat Olansky, director of planning and development when the bylaw was presented for first reading.

Retail stores are now allowed in hamlet commercial and highway commercial districts.

Setback distances of 100 metres for residential commercial recreation facility, indoor recreation facility, outdoor recreation facility, park and recreational use, were struck out, as recommended by the Municipal Planning Commission.

No variances will be allowed, added Olansky in her report.

An application for a retail cannabis store in the hamlet commercial zone is now eligible, Olansky confirms.

Gerald Millett applied for a licence to Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis on March 6 to operate a store in Kinuso under the name of DJ’s Herb Shoppe as reported in the South Peace News on May 23.

Now adopted, the bylaw regulates that cannabis retail business shall not be located within 100 metres from a school, licensed daycare facility, provincial healthcare facility, health clinic, and lot boundary of a parcel of land that is designated as a school reserve or municipal and school reserve under the Municipal Government Act.

Although no submissions were received by the county, a former Joussard councillor questioned council and staff time to prepare such as bylaw.

“I think the bylaw is a waste of time and money,” Guy L’Heureux says.

“What’s the fearmongering?”

He wondered how the bylaw would be enforced and that it will cost the county a lot of money.

Consumption of cannabis will be presented at a public hearing on Oct. 10.

First reading was given Aug. 22 to a bylaw that proposes that no person shall smoke, vape or consume cannabis on municipal property, which includes any sidewalk, lane, street, boulevard, road, road allowance, right-of-way, recreation facility or building in the county.


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