Pubdate: Mon, 31 Oct 2016
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Kelly Egan
Page: A2


Ottawa police and municipal authorities are getting creative in
dealing with our budding but illegal marijuana dispensaries.

But you do wonder if the use of imaginative enforcement techniques is
born of a lack of courage.

The police have refused to raid the retail outlets, which now number
17, but have spent a substantial amount of time "monitoring" their
activities. (During a record year for shootings, by the way.)

As we've learned in the terrific reporting of Citizen writer Jacquie
Miller, the Ottawa police sent letters to 13 dispensary landlords
warning them of possible police action or even property forfeiture if
they allow illegal sales to continue.

Outrageous, really, and the police should be embarrassed.

Since when is it the responsibility of a private landlord to enforce
the Criminal Code? This is especially true when the alleged illegal
activity exists in a kind of "grey zone" - or fog, maybe - pending
legislative change from Parliament, which could be months and months
away. Is the landlord supposed to go undercover and undertake his own
quasi-criminal investigation?

If a storefront were operating a brothel or an after-hours bar or
gambling joint, would the police respond to a complaint by saying:
"Sorry to hear. Take it up with the landlord"? The heck they would.

Two of the landlords who spoke to Miller, in fact, say they've invited
the police to shut the operations down. Not the coppers' problem,
apparently, to uphold the law.

There are really only two courses of action that are defensible at
this point: Follow the letter of the law by shutting them all down; or
give in, accept that society has changed its stance on legally
available marijuana, and actually support the retail sales of pot in
mini-malls everywhere.

Instead, there are back-door tactics that reveal the authorities don't
know where they stand. We read in Saturday's newspaper the city is
scrutinizing at least two of the operations for zoning violations, an
inventive approach to businesses that can't even obtain a legal
business licence in the first place.

We await the bylaw officer's visit to monitor noise levels, signage,
straight parking lines and litter control. Maybe the Humane Society
could stop by to make sure the house cat is not being mistreated and
building inspectors could ensure the railings are not an inch too low
and the paint schemes don't offend property standards. Better check
the air and water quality, too.

I just don't get it. Either shut them down, or actually respect their
right to retail. And, yes, Watson and Bordeleau, wear it: Act out of
principled conviction.

A newly released poll shows Canadians are fairly evenly divided on the
legal use of recreational marijuana, which means 2017 - when the new
law arrives - is shaping up to be a howler. Electoral reform is a dog
of a Trudeau promise that will probably die a quiet death. Not marijuana.

Personally, I don't think Canadians are ready for pot sales at the
strip mall where high schoolers hang out on skateboards.

But we shall see.

- ----------------------------------------------------

I've long thought the city missed an opportunity to engage the public
in the mechanics of building our light-rail system. Why not webcams
near the tunnel-borers or free tours of completed sections, or ready
media access to the ongoing nitty-gritty work? It's the biggest thing
the city has ever built and we're keenly interested in how it will
eventually look. (Do not be surprised, people, by all the overhead
wires.) Instead we get this. Did you know the Lyon Station will be
completed first and a whiz-bang sound-and-light show is being planned
for the summer of 2017? Me either.

But the latest electronic newsletter about the new Confederation Line
teases us with the news.

"To showcase this modern mode of travel and to build anticipation for
this new era of transportation in the nation's capital, Lyon Station
will be open to the public for a free, innovative multimedia
experience in the summer of 2017.

"The full concept and title of this spectacular sound and light
fantasy voyage will be revealed soon. In the meantime, here's a sneak

Above lies a photo of a freakily-lit tunnel or spaceship, into which
dozens of people are walking, like pioneers off to Mars. And, no, I
could not make out any bicycle lanes or pot kiosks, though it all
looks pretty trippy.
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MAP posted-by: Matt