February 4, 2019 4:57 pm

Municipality of Marmora and Lake opts out of retail cannabis

Marmora and Lake is one of 77 municipalities in Ontario to opt out of retail cannabis stores.

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With a population of just under 4,000, the Municipality of Marmora and Lake will not qualify for the first round of cannabis stores in April.

But even if it did qualify, council has voted to opt out of allowing retail cannabis in the community.

This is despite a report from CAO of Marmora and Lake Typhany Choinard recommending the municipality, about 55 kilometres east of Peterborough, to opt in and a survey completed by 423 people with a 74 per cent rate of support of allowing retail cannabis.

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READ MORE: 77 out of 414 Ontario municipalities opt out of retail cannabis stores

“My recommendation was to opt in and it was based on that public survey and the information we received from that,” said Choinard.

Opting out will mean the municipality will not see any funds from the provincial portion of the federal excise tax if it exceeded $100 million in the first two years of legalization.

The province said it was committed to splitting its portion 50/50 with communities that opted in.

Communities needed to opt in by Jan. 22 to qualify for that funding, whether they qualified for the first round of stores or not.  Marmora and Lake falls into the east region for cannabis stores.

There are five licences for that region and six communities that qualify for stores due to their population sizes, including Peterborough, Belleville and the City of Kawartha Lakes.

“So how that money could be spent, we actually don’t know. We didn’t have the parameters around that,” said Choinard. “Perhaps it could be used for infrastructure or other pressures municipalities are facing.”

The municipality received $5,000 in 2018 and another $5,000 from the province for the implementation of the cannabis legislation.

Council received Choinard’s report but voted it down. Only the deputy mayor voted in favour of it.

READ MORE: Private Ontario cannabis retail stores won’t be able to offer click-and-collect purchases

“I can’t speak for the members of council, who chose to opt out.  I do know in discussing with them, they chose to vote the way their constituents wanted them to vote,” said Mayor Jan O’Neill.

“The decision has been made. The deadline has past and we have to stand behind our decision,” added O’Neill.

The municipality can opt-in at a later date, but will not qualify for the excise funding.

“Legislation has changed frequently since it became legal. We need to monitor the future changes and determine at that time how it affects our municipality,” said O’Neill.

“We’re in communication with the other municipalities (in our county) on issues such as this. We are always aware of how they are making decisions.”

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