Richmond Hill, Markham to opt out of retail cannabis sales
Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, August 15, 2018 8:17PM EDT
The mayor of Richmond Hill has said that his city will opt out of the government’s plan to introduce private retail stores for cannabis by April 2019.
Mayor David Barrow said that while some residents disagree with his stance, city council will not be in favour of legal pot shops in the city.
“We’re not a willing host of recreation retail outlet,” Barrow told CTV News Toronto on Wednesday. “We had a number of people attend our council meetings and say they weren’t interested in being a part of any of this process.”
“Our council has not requested to change anything.”
Barrow said he was presented with a petition signed by more than 1,000 residents asking him not to allow pot stores to legally set up shop in Richmond Hill.
“The concern with the community is the fact that it will be seen as an acceptable thing to do and most parents don’t want their children thinking that is the case,” he said. “The fact that if you want to drive to another community and purchase your recreational stash then please go ahead. Our community is saying we just don’t want to have it available in Richmond Hill.”
One Richmond Hill resident, Simer Jaswal, said legal pot not being sold in the city won’t be an issue for him.
“Well for me I drive, so I can drive to where I can buy it,” he said. “He (Barrow) is missing out on business that’s for sure and a lot of people would probably like to invest in it so he’s also missing investments.”
Marijuana is set to be legalized in the country on Oct. 17. The provincial government announced on Monday that Ontarians 19 years of age or older will be able to buy legal pot through a government-run website before a “private retail model” is launched in 2019.
Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said on Monday that municipalities will be consulted prior to legal cannabis stores opening in their area. Cities will be given a one-time opportunity to opt out of housing legal pot shops.
The legalization of marijuana comes just a few days before a municipal election is supposed to take place in Richmond Hill and the rest of the Greater Toronto Area. Depending on the deadline to opt out, the next elected government of Richmond Hill may be able to pass a motion reversing the city’s decision.
No details regarding opt out deadlines or enforcement tactics have been released to date.
The Mayor of Markham said he will also be opting out.
“When approached by the previous government to be one of the first locations, Mayor Scarpitti rejected that opportunity and subsequently council also passed a motion rejecting a retail outlet,” a statement from Markham mayor Frank Scarpitti’s office read.
The City of Vaughan has not arbitrarily said no to facilitating private retail stores for cannabis. In a statement, the city said that the issue of cannabis legalization “is continually evolving.”
“Vaughan staff continue to monitor government announcements closely. Staff will bring forward a report to council, at the earliest possible time, to seek direction from council to determine if the City of Vaughan will have physical retail cannabis stores."
- With files from CTV News Toronto's Tracy Tong