At a general committee meeting Monday evening, Barrie city councillors gave initial approval for allowing bricks-and-mortar cannabis stores within the city’s borders.
A staff report to the general committee recommended provincially licensed retail stores be permitted within Barrie, subject to provincial and federal regulations.
The province has given municipalities until Jan. 22 to opt out of having private cannabis storefronts operate within their boundaries. If the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has not received written notification from a municipality by the deadline, private cannabis retail stores will be allowed within the jurisdiction by default.
If Barrie chooses to opt in, the city will have little say as to where the cannabis retail stores will be located. That decision is up to the AGCO, which will be responsible for approving or denying site applications.
According to provincial regulations, retail cannabis stores must be at least 150 metres away from schools, must bar anyone under the age of 19 from entering and will operate between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.
However, Barrie’s plan is to extend the 150-metre limit to 300 metres around schools, Georgian College locations, parks and open spaces, day nurseries and childcare centres, libraries, community centres, mental health centres and addiction facilities such as alcohol and detox centres and clinics.
City council would also like to extend the distance between cannabis stores and stores that sell alcohol to 300 metres to avoid “clustering” and would ban the smoking of cannabis, including vaping, on city sidewalks.
If the city decides to opt in, staff will include these additional proposed guidelines in their “public interest statement” to the AGCO for consideration.
Now that councillors have given their initial approval, the matter will be up for final approval on Monday.
The first 25 retail cannabis stores are scheduled to open on April 1.