Brampton city council has voted in favour of opting in to the provincial government’s regime for allowing cannabis retail stores to operate within its municipality.
In an eight-to-three vote, council voted in favour of the proposition as well as a series of measures aimed at advocating for increased protections.
“Whether you like it or you don’t, cannabis is in our community,” Mayor Patrick Brown said before backing a motion to opt in.
“Not only is it here through black market dispensaries, you can purchase it online … If someone is going to use cannabis, I prefer that they do it at a legal store.”
Brown said by opting in, it would allow the municipality to receive partial provincial funding needed for police and enforcement. However, he expressed concern about the lack of full funding for increased costs.
Coun. Charmaine Williams, who voted against opting in, said she’s concerned about a flood of stores opening after the initial round of licences are issued by the Ontario government.
“The 17,000 businesses and individuals who applied for the licence really was the final straw and it really spikes a lot of concern in our communities with the legislation that we have,” she said.
“We really have to think what that’s going to look like for Brampton.”
When it comes to nearby municipalities, the Town of Oakville and City of Mississauga opted out of retail cannabis stores. However, the City of Toronto opted in.
Under legislation regarding privately run cannabis stores announced by the Ontario government earlier this year, the province’s municipalities have a one-time opt-out deadline — which is on Tuesday. Stores will be allowed to open as soon as April 1.
Earlier this month, the Ontario government announced the recipients of the province’s initial 25 retail licences.
The stand-alone stores can be open any day between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., but the businesses must be at least 150 metres away from schools and restrict entry to anyone under 19 years old.
Illegal cannabis retailers who were operating after legalization on Oct. 17 will not be eligible to receive cannabis sales licences.
The only current legal way of getting recreational marijuana in the province is online through the government-run Ontario Cannabis Store.
Approximately $40 million will be given to local governments across the province over two years to help with costs associated with the legalization of marijuana. The funding will be distributed in two rounds.