Pubdate: Wed, 13 Dec 2017
Source: Expositor, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Brantford Expositor
Author: Vincent Ball
Page: A1


Brantford on list of 14 cities announced by the province

Brantford is getting a government-run marijuana store after all.

The city is on a list of 15 cities announced Tuesday by the

The stores will sell marijuana for recreational use.

Officials confirmed Tuesday that the city has been identified for the
location of at least one cannabis retail store by next July, the same
month the federal government plans to legalize cannabis. Brantford was
not on a list announced in November of 14 cities chosen to host pot

"It's our understanding that in implementing the rollout of legalized
cannabis retail outlets the province is committed to engaging with the
city to ensure that municipal feedback is considered throughout the
planning and development process," Maria Visocchi, the city's director
of communications and community engagement, said in a statement.

Ottawa introduced legislation in April with a goal of legalizing and
regulating the use of recreational pot by July 1, 2018, but left it up
to the provinces to design their own distribution systems and usage

Ontario was the first province to announce a detailed plan to sell and
distribute recreational marijuana and legislators on Tuesday passed a
bill that would establish a framework for legalization.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa said one of his top concerns is
ensuring municipalities were not "out of pocket" for a legalization
plan that isn't something they created.

"We want municipalities to be partners in this," he said. "They're
being imposed (upon) by the federal government, as are the provinces.
This is their timeline, this is their program. We just want to make
sure we provide the necessary supports for the communities. We'll work
with the municipalities to make sure they get compensated."

The minimum legal age to purchase cannabis in Ontario will be 19. The
province also plans to set up about 150 standalone cannabis stores by
2020. The first wave of 40 stores will open in 2018, with that number
slated to rise to 80 stores by July 2019.

A subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario will run the
stores and the agency itself is overseeing the process to establish
their locations.

Consumption of legal weed will not be allowed in public spaces or
workplaces in Ontario and will have to be confined to private
residences, the province has said.

The government's plan has been met with anxiety by some municipal
leaders who say the process has not provided them with enough
information. Mayor Chris Friel

"City staff have recently met with Ministry of Finance officials and
representatives from the LCBO to discuss the criteria for site
selection as well as the education and awareness campaign that will be
a vital component of the retail launch in our community," Visocchi

"Together with our provincial partners, the city will ensure that
decisions about store location are made based on the goal of
protecting young people, and keeping our community safe. We have been
assured that the LCBO will use strict guidelines to identify specific
store locations with the objective of ensuring that vulnerable
populations are protected and illegal market activity is mitigated.
This criteria includes ensuring stores are not located in close
proximity to schools."

The city encouraged residents with questions to visit the LCBO
cannabis retail website at: https://

"We understand and expect that residents of Brantford will have many
questions regarding this development," Visocchi said. "The city is
dedicated to providing information to the public regarding the site
selection and implementation process in Brantford as it becomes
available in the coming months."

Mayor Chris Friel remains critical of how the province came up with
its marijuanastrategy and communicated it to municipalities.

"I'm disappointed that none of the Association of Municipalities of
Ontario's recommendations for the rollout were considered or reflected
in the policy and governance structure," said Friel, who is the chair
of the AMO task force on marijuana. "There should have been more
meaningful engagement with municipalities during the planning phase
since we will be responsible for governing and implementing the
legislation on the front lines.

"More resources will be needed including police, bylaw officers and
communications to properly education the public, especially youth and
vulnerable populations."

Friel also has been critical that there is no economic or
entrepreneurial element included as part of the provincial plan. And
he also decried the lack of a provincial public education campaign.

"One of the reasons I've brought the idea of a local task force on
this issue is because we need to educate the public," Friel said.
"That's something that we, as municipalities, were promised but it
hasn't materialized.

"This is an important issue and people need to be educated about the
pros and cons of marijuana legalization."

The mayor said he finds it difficult to say if the opening of a
cannabis retail store in Brantford will be a good thing.

"'Certainly the legalization is something that needed to be done
especially when we consider the medicinal uses," Friel said. "At the
same time, there were people going to jail and having legal trouble
because they had a small amount of marijuana.

"I think, as a society, we're adult enough to handle

Here's the list of municipalities that will get a standalone cannabis 
store by July, announced by the provincial government on Tuesday: Ajax, 
Belleville, Brantford, Burlington, Cambridge, Chatham-Kent, Guelph, 
Lindsay, Niagara Falls, Oakville, Oshawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, 
Waterloo and Whitby.

These municipalities were announced earlier: Barrie, Brampton,
Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Mississauga, Ottawa, Sault Ste.
Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vaughan and Windsor.
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MAP posted-by: Matt