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Canmore looks at cannabis definitions, consultations

The Town of Canmore is moving toward specific definitions in its Land Use Bylaw in relation to the legalization of cannabis in Canada expected this year.

The Town of Canmore is moving toward specific definitions in its Land Use Bylaw in relation to the legalization of cannabis in Canada expected this year.

While timelines on exactly when the federal government's Bill C-45 will officially be enacted are still a bit hazy, junior planner Richard Williams told council at its March 6 meeting that definitions are an important part of determining where retail sales would be allowed in the community.

Williams said without specific definitions in the bylaw, the use would be considered retail and would be permitted wherever retails sales are allowed in the community's commercial districts.

"Today we are proposing a bylaw amendment that adds new definitions to the bylaw that would be for cannabis retail stores," he said. "We are proposing to insert the new use into all commercial districts and direct control districts that currently allow for liquor stores as a discretionary use."

He said proposed regulations would require a development permit to be approved in order for licencing through the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.

A public hearing for the definitions was scheduled for April 10 at 5 p.m. at the Civic Centre.

Last week, the municipality also launched an online survey around cannabis that closes on March 29. Williams said the results of the survey would also be presented at the public hearing.

"That is a general survey that gives the community an opportunity to comment on how they feel about legalization of cannabis in Canmore," he said.

Regulations around cannabis retail locations have been put forward by the province and include a 100-metre setback from schools and hospitals, as well as licencing criteria. The AGLC opened up applications for licences last week as well.

Williams told council that municipalities are able to put in stricter regulations around location if they feel it is necessary.

Provincial regulations in Bill 26 proposes to prohibit smoking cannabis in any place where tobacco is restricted by provincial law, as well as anywhere children might be present. Municipalities can also expand those restricted locations if they choose to.

At the same time as the bylaw is being considered, the Town of Canmore has partnered with Cannabis Let's Talk Alberta to provide community conversations around the issue.

Administration told council those conversations are not meant to gather input to inform the bylaw process, but are funded through Health Canada and are focused on dialogue in the community on the issue of cannabis and will be held in April, May and June once facilitators receive training.

Supervisor of family and community support services Tara Gilchrist said those sessions will be geared toward respectful dialogue on the issue, for those who agree with, or disagree with, the changes.

"(Legalization) is coming, it is going to happen," she said, adding there are polarizing views on the subject. "How do we talk about living together with opposing views and accurate information from a health perspective?"

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