City tries to prepare for cannabis legalization

By Jessica Dempsey

November 15, 2017 3:15 PM

Mayor Gerald Aalbers/File Photo

With the July 2018 deadline for legalized non-medical marijuana approaching fast, Lloydminster City Council is trying to be prepared for the municipal task at hand.
The Alberta and Saskatchewan Governments have yet to provide further legislation, so city administration cannot prepare local bylaws and policies.
On Tuesday, city council granted the first reading of Bylaw 25-2017 Cannabis Moratorium. 
“We are proposing a bylaw that will give the city time to prepare the proper bylaws that may be associated with cannabis being legalized,” said Mayor Gerald Aalbers.
The proposed act by the federal government Bill C-45 has triggered many provinces and municipalities into coming up with plans.
“We have bylaws in place that regulate where stores, up to various natures, are located. So, that will mean we will come up with a bylaw that states where a cannabis retail store could be located if that’s what ends up happening,” said Aalbers.
Only Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Alberta have announced cannabis frameworks, all sightly differing.
“Until those regulations actually come out for Saskatchewan and Alberta, and we can try to determine where we as a border city can arrive at, (but) we need some time,” said Aalbers.
With being a bi-provincial city, it certainly adds complexities when having to wait for legislation from two different provinces.
Aalbers gave the example of alcohol where in Saskatchewan it’s 19 years old to drink, and in Alberta, it is 18 years old.
“We want to make sure we get it right to ensure the community as a whole sees it equally across the board, that’s what the ability of the bylaws we have can allow for some things. So, certainly we don’t control the age of drinking, but we have some abilities to control things around the retailing,” said Aalbers.
The moratorium is just in place to give the city enough time to draft bylaws when it comes to retailing cannabis.
“At this time, we want to make sure we have the proper process in place so that someone doesn’t spend their hard earned money and try to take a lease on a property, and the city says ‘oh, by the way, you can’t operate in that lease,’” said Aalbers.
“I ask people to bare with us in the retail area and business community. The city wants to do it right the first time.”
The moratorium is projected to be in place until June 11, 2018.
That date, some of the councillors had questions with, as it is suspected cannabis will be legalized in July, and they wondered if it gave retailers enough time.
“As they indicated during the meeting, our city clerk mentioned really, this will automatically be repealed, just by virtue of the date and likely there will be something in place by that time anyway,” said Coun. Jonathan Torresan. 
There was a discussion during the city council meeting around the jurisdiction municipalities had when it came to cannabis, and it was floated around the possibility of having strict retail bylaws to not allow the sale of cannabis in the city because of possible concerns.
“I think we would be challenged to try and bring forward, it would be no different than bringing prohibition back or anything like that,” explained Aalbers.
“Certainly, we realize the community has input, but they also have to realize that the Supreme Court of Canada has decided a lot of different things, and I don’t think as taxpayers they want us to be defending our bylaws at the Supreme Court of Canada. So, I think we need to be realistic, what that means will come forward in due time.”
City council will also hold a public hearing on the Cannabis Moratorium on Dec. 11 at 2 p.m.

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