Niverville groups campaigning ahead of retail pot plebiscite

Click to play video: 'Niverville pot fight' Niverville pot fight
The Town of Niverville is holding a plebicite on the future of pot retailers in their community – Nov 13, 2019

At the end of the month, Niverville, Man. residents will be able to vote on whether or not they want retail cannabis in the community.

Signs are posted in front yards and along the streets of Niverville. One encourages resident to vote ‘yes’ and support Niverville, a cannabis dispensary and economic growth. The other reads “say no to drugs” and encourages residents to vote ‘no’ on Nov. 26.

The plebiscite comes following a split vote from town council on the issue earlier this year.

“Indirectly council has been split when it comes to putting retail cannabis in our community for different reasons. At the end of the day, a plebiscite was voted in by council,” Niverville Councillor Nathan Dueck said.

READ MORE: One year later: Still stigma against pot use, and some Manitoba users going back to online market

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The group Citizens of a Progressive Niverville say a cannabis store would help economic growth in the community.

“If people come and use the store, they will definitely use other services in Niverville,” spokesperson Billie Fontaine told Global News.

“Also, the Manitoba government had agreed that we would have access to cannabis within a 30 minute drive, so Niverville will be the only rural southern (Manitoba) cannabis store. So we can definitely serve other communities in the area.”

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Fontaine says the issue should have never gone to a plebiscite in the first place, as Niverville had initially agreed to have retail cannabis in town after it was legalized by the federal government last year.

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“We’re saying ‘yes’ to a legal business operating,” Fontaine added. “Whether it’s cannabis or not, it should be here.”

Niverville residents have been campaigning ahead of a retail cannabis plebiscite in the community on Nov. 26. Josh Arason / Global News

Other residents are concerned over safety and young children having easier access to marijuana.

“It’s a common saying that it takes a village to raise a child, and if we believe that, then cannabis would not fit into Niverville because there’s been more heartache, more family separations (and) relationship strains because of cannabis and a variety of other drugs than any other product (has had),” resident Ewald Kasdorf said.

READ MORE: Manitoba rolling out safety campaign in advance of edible pot

Kasdorf, along with a group of other residents, have been putting signs around the community encouraging people to vote against retail cannabis. He says he wants to challenge parents and grandparents to “step up to the plate.”

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“As dads and granddads, it is our responsibility to protect our children,” Kasdorf added. “This is why I’m doing this, this is to protect these kids from potential temptations.

“If we can keep it away, it will make it more difficult for our younger generation to access cannabis. It’s just the right thing to do.”

Coun. Dueck says whether you are for or against it, council wants everyone to have their say on Nov, 26.

READ MORE: Candy or cannabis: can you tell the difference?

“Regardless of your opinion, whether it’s a firm yes, a firm no or you’re undecided — go out, educate yourself, make sure you show up because ultimately it’s going to make a difference long term for the viability of the community,” Dueck said.

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