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Mayor discloses he initiated cannabis motion

'This motion shouldn't be perceived as an opting in or opting out motion' - Mayor Provenzano
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City Council's decision on whether to ban private-sector retail cannabis stores in the Sault will be made on Monday, Jan. 14.

The province has set Jan. 22 as the deadline for deciding to opt out of private stores.

"It's an important decision that we're going to make," said Ward 5 councillor Corey Gardi, who introduced a motion asking for a staff report on the issue.

"I believe it's important that we have all the information to make a responsible decision," Gardi said.

Mayor Christian Provenzano disclosed that he was the instigator of the motion.

"This arose out of discussions I had with a number of you independently," Provenzano said.

"I had a number of councillors call me and ask me about the kind of information that will be coming, and what the decision will look like."

"Councillor Gardi called me and asked similar questions that I got from Councillor Hollingsworth and I got from Councillor Christian," the mayor said.

"I suggested that we put a motion on the agenda today. Because if we were just to show up here in January and had staff deliver the report, and then not have all the information you're looking for, we don't have any more time to go back and get the information you're looking for."

"We're going to have to make this decision at our first meeting in January. So today is the opportunity for all of you, in the context of this motion, to make sure staff understands the information that you're looking to see, so you can make a proper decision."

"This motion shouldn't be perceived as an opting in or opting out motion. It's simply a motion to direct staff to make sure they bring us back the information that we will need to make a proper decision," Provenzano said.

Councillors voted tonight to direct city staff to report back on:

  • how many private retail stores may be permitted to open in Sault Ste. Marie if the municipality doesn't opt out
  • where the private retail stores may locate in the city if we don't opt out
  • what type of authority, if any, the municipality has to regulate cannabis consumption in public places

Ward 2 councillor Luke Dufour cautioned that not all of the information requested may necessarily be available from the province.

"I personally am comfortable with making my decision on whether or not to opt out with incomplete information because I believe that's part of the point. Either you're in or you're out," Dufour said.

Ward 5 councillor Matthew Scott pointed out that Prince Township has opted to allow retail cannabis sales.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commision of Ontario website indicates Tarbutt, Plummer Additional and Township of the North Shore have also done so.

Ward 1 Sandra Hollingsworth wanted to know whether there will be a limit on number of stores allowed.

Al Horsman, the city's chief administrative officer, said the city can expect some revenue from higher levels of government related to cannabis sales, but it won't be a windfall.

"It's not large and it's not a revenue-sharing piece. It's just grant money provided for specific purposes," the CAO said.

Ward 2 councillor Lisa Vezeau-Allen asked fellow councillors to review a City of Calgary bylaw that limits cannabis consumption to private property.

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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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