HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Budding Concerns
Pubdate: Sun, 03 Dec 2017
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Calgary Sun
Contact: http://www.calgarysun.com/letter-to-editor
Website: http://www.calgarysun.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/67
Author: James Wood
Page: 3

BUDDING CONCERNS

Alberta cities want to hash out details on dealing with fallout from
legalized marijuana

Who's going to do what, who's going to pay for what?" Barry Morishita,
Alberta Urban Municipalities Association

The newly elected president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities
Association, Barry Morishita, said the NDP government has been good at
keeping municipalities in the loop as it works through cannabis
legalization.

But the Brooks mayor said municipalities are still looking for answers
in some areas as the July 1, 2018, deadline for legalization moves
ever closer.

Money, as usual, is a major issue.

"Who's going to fund the cost of services from the change in
legislation?" said Morishita in a recent interview. "Municipalities
for the most part are responsible for policing, they're responsible
for permitting, they're responsible for monitoring and enforcement.
All of those things. And we don't really understand … who's going to
do what, who's going to pay for what? Is there going to be
revenue-sharing? That's a big concern for us going forward."

The federal Liberal government is legalizing recreational cannabis but
has left many of the details around implementation to the provinces.

Among the actions taken by the NDP government is new legislation to
augment pending federal laws aimed at cracking down on cannabis
impaired drivers.

Premier Rachel Notley said the government expects court and policing
costs to go up in response to legal weed, claiming the additional
costs - which the government has not provided - will be greater than
the additional revenue from marijuana.

She wants the federal government to give all the revenue from its
proposed excise tax on cannabis to the provinces, rather than Ottawa's
proposed 50-50 split.

The Notley government's plan calls for a legal cannabis consumption
age of 18 and sales to be handled through private-sector stand-alone
stores, except for online sales, which will be run through government
distribution.

Morishita said that besides issues around policing, municipalities are
grappling with uncertainty from the province in areas such as the
licensing and zoning of marijuana stores.

"We are still waiting for these hard regulations that we can build our
bylaws and our work plans and service plans off of them," he said.

Matt Zabloski, the lead for the City of Calgary's cannabis
legalization project, said among the biggest unknowns for the city are
whether it or the province will be responsible for the separation
distances between cannabis stores and sensitive areas, such as
playgrounds.

He said city officials will meet soon with officials of the provincial
cannabis secretariat and is also currently running a survey to get
input from Calgary residents on various issues.

Veronica Jubinville, a spokeswoman for the minister of justice and
solicitor general, said in an e-mail the province is currently working
on regulations and expects to share details when they're finalized in
the new year.

"We've already established in our legislation that there will be
setbacks from certain properties for retail stores. For example, the
minimum distance they must be from schools, community centres, liquor
stores and each other. However, the specific distances will be
established through a regulation," Jubinville said.

The City of Calgary needs to determine zoning rules for cannabis
stores, which will likely receive a specific zoning designation,
similar to what exists now for liquor stores, said Zabloski.

It will also have to decide whether it wants to issue its own specific
licence for the cannabis operations - as it does for liquor stores -
on top of the permit that will be issued by the province.

"What we've found is that gives us the ability to regulate in a local
context," said Zabloski.

Fred Pels, chief executive of B.C.-based Green Room, which runs
dispensaries in Vancouver and Nelson and already has cannabis
information centres in Calgary and Edmonton it hopes to soon convert
into retail stores, said the city has been as proactive as possible
when it comes to the looming changes.

"We don't have lots of time, but I'm confident in council and their
ability to move forward. They were forward-thinking well before any
talk of legalization," said Pels, who wants to open several stores in
Calgary by July.

- - With files from Annalise Klingbeil, Postmedia
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