The City of Wetaskiwin will soon be home to three cannabis retail developments that were chosen through random selection following the legalization of marijuana on Oct. 17.
Municipalities across Alberta have implemented different approaches when it comes to the legalization of cannabis, and there are different rules depending on which city or town you visit.
As an introduction, Wetaskiwin city council was only comfortable in considering three cannabis retail locations, which now need to meet an approval process. This leaves out 10 other hopeful cannabis retail applicants who were unsuccessful in the random selection process held on Oct. 10 at Wetaskiwin city hall.
City of Wetaskiwin Mayor Tyler Gandam mentioned that he was in favour of limiting the number of cannabis retail stores in Wetaskiwin for a couple of reasons. He didn’t want the city to be portrayed under negative light and he also wanted to have the time to consider the impact cannabis could have on the city.
“We seem to have a negative image regarding the number of liquor stores we have so my hope is that by not having a dozen cannabis retail stores, there isn’t another negative image for the city,” Gandam said.
“Starting off slowly and making sure we understand how the change will affect us is much easier than trying to make changes after we get a better understanding. We can always increase the number of licenses given by the city. We can’t decrease them if we start having concerns,” the mayor added of cannabis retail development.
Lisa Novotny, City of Wetaskiwin manager of engineering and development, estimates that the costs associated with legalization will be upwards of $50,000 every year. She also mentioned that the costs of bringing cannabis legislation forward, such as administrative time, conducting an open house, gathering public survey input, presenting information to council, and drafting bylaws, was “onerous” for city staff and “wasn’t significantly budgeted for.”
City administration will begin to meet with the three selected cannabis retailers (2107633 AB Ltd. 4119–56 Street, 2107633 AB Ltd. 5510–40 Ave, and Cannabis Boutique Inc. 5011C – 50 Ave) on a “one-on-one basis.” Novotny explained that the businesses will need to abide by the city’s land use bylaw, get formal approval from the AGLC (Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis), and make a formal development permit for consideration.
Should these first three businesses fail to meet these requirements the next cannabis retailer on the city’s random selection list will be considered.
Wetaskiwin city council has also made it clear that public consumption of cannabis is prohibited in the city.
“My reason behind voting for a public smoking ban was because cannabis is an intoxicant,” Gandam said. “You aren’t allowed to drink alcohol in public, so you shouldn’t be smoking cannabis.”
Wetaskiwin city council will revisit its cannabis legislation in 2020.
By Jessica Jones, Pipestone Flyer freelance reporter