by Tristan Turner
Council has been presented with a draft bylaw to amend the Town’s Land Use Bylaw in preparation for the anticipated legalization of cannabis that is expected to come into law in the fall of 2018.
The draft legislation was presented by Schaun Goodeve, Morinville’s Director of Planning and Economic Development, and detailed the requirements of Alberta’s announced cannabis legislation and the requirements of federal legislation. Goodeve stressed that there is some caution in amending the bylaws prematurely until cannabis possession/use have been removed from the Criminal Code, but that the Town should be prepared to have the appropriate amendments to their bylaw prepared in time for the changes later this year.
In the draft law, the sale and use of cannabis is a controlled substance treated similarly in the bylaw to alcohol, with the stipulation of the additional restrictions the province has placed on cannabis (including restrictions on public use, self-growing and driving under the influence etc.).
Following receiving this information, Deputy Mayor Dafoe moved a motion for council to receive First Reading of the legislation.
Councillor Boutestein noted her initial disapproval of the motion because of concerns for the timing and “tying up loose ends” saying she believes council should wait until federal legislation is finalized until the town moves forward with their amendments to their Bylaws.
CAO Isbister clarified that he recommended passing First Reading to get it ‘on our books’ so that the Town will be ready for public consultation and discussion, and suggested that if at a later date council decides that the law needs substantial changes, or needs to be scrapped altogether, they could either amend or drop the legislation entirely. After hearing this clarification, Boutestein changed her mind and decided to support the motion.
In response to a question from Councillor Giffin, Goodeve also made it clear that even is this legislation is approved by council as written, it does not necessarily mean that a cannabis dispensary will open in Morinville because a private business would still have to go through the arduous application and permitting process. Goodeve pointed to ‘Adult Entertainment’ as another example, which is stipulated in Morinville’s Land Use Bylaw, even though no such business exists in Town.
In closing, Dafoe noted that both the federal and provincial governments have already put down the “nuts and bolts” of the legislation out there and that “we need to be prepared.”
After some brief clarifying questions from council, the motion passed unanimously.
The amendments to the LUB will now go to a public hearing before Second, and Third Reading can be heard. That Public Hearing will likely take place in early April.